Handbook on Trade and the Environment
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Handbook on Trade and the Environment

Edited by Kevin P. Gallagher

In this comprehensive reference work, Kevin Gallagher has compiled a fresh and broad-ranging collection of expert voices commenting on the interdisciplinary field of trade and the environment. For over two decades policymakers and scholars have been struggling to understand the relationship between international trade in a globalizing world and its effects on the natural environment. The authors in this Handbook provide the tools to do just that.
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Chapter 12: Global Mechanisms for Greening TNCs: Inching Towards Corporate Accountability?

Jennifer Clapp


Jennifer Clapp Introduction There has been heightened concern in recent years with respect to the environmental impact of transnational corporations (TNCs) and foreign direct investment (FDI) (Dauvergne, 2001; Leighton et al., 2002; Gallagher and Zarsky, 2007). The past few decades have seen the emergence of a number of international mechanisms designed to enhance or improve the performance of TNCs with respect to the environment. Some of these mechanisms are undertaken by individual firms; some have been derived from within a particular industry; some have been developed in conjunction with other actors (state and non-state); and some are overseen by intergovernmental organizations. A key debate has been whether mechanisms to green TNCs should be industry driven and voluntary, or mandatory, as part of government regulation. All of the international mechanisms thus far put into place are voluntary. But many claim that such measures lack teeth, and there have been mounting calls for a more state-based regulatory approach at the global level to ensure corporate accountability. This chapter provides a brief survey of the main international instruments for corporate greening that aim to improve the environmental performance of TNCs and FDI. The chapter first provides an outline and discussion of the various mechanisms and debates that have arisen with respect to these instruments. It then goes on to discuss the idea of a corporate accountability treaty, which some non-state actors have suggested as a means by which to provide more teeth to corporate greening initiatives. I argue that although there is at...

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