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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The first Handbook of original articles by leading scholars of global environmental politics, this landmark volume maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this young and growing field. Captured here are the dynamic and energetic debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 18: Transnational Corporations and Global Environmental Governance

Jennifer Clapp


Jennifer Clapp* In the current era of economic globalization there has been remarkable growth in both the number of transnational corporations (TNCs) and the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI). The number of TNCs has grown from 7000 TNC parent firms in 1970 to over 65 000 in 2002. By 2002 there were also over 850 000 foreign affiliates – that is, corporations associated with a TNC – operating around the world, making up one-tenth of world GDP and onethird of world exports (UNCTAD, 2001: 9; 2002: xv, 272). Flows of FDI have grown considerably in recent decades. In 1970, the level of FDI inflows stood at US$9.2 billion, and by 2001 it stood at US$735 billion (down from the record-breaking US$1.49 trillion in 2000) (UNCTAD, 2001: 1; World Bank, 2003). Given this importance of transnational investment, it is clear that TNCs are very important global actors. They are especially important in environmental politics and policy because they tend to invest in environmentally sensitive sectors. This chapter will examine the role of business actors in global environmental governance. It argues that the visibility and power of TNCs in the formulation of global environmental governance has increased in the past decade. While this enhanced position has given TNCs a stronger voice in influencing global environmental policy outcomes, it has also led to a movement to impose external rules on these actors, in the form of a global corporate accountability agreement. In the face of growing momentum to...

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