See below for some of the latest articles published in International Affairs, 88 (3)
Emerging powers, North–South relations and global climate politics
Abstract: There is a widespread perception that power is shifting in global politics and that emerging powers are assuming a more prominent, active and important role. This article examines the role of emerging powers such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa (BASIC) in climate change politics and the extent to which their rise makes the already difficult problem of climate change still more intractable—due to their rapid economic development, growing power-political ambitions, rising greenhouse gas emissions and apparent unwillingness to accept global environmental ‘responsibility’. By reviewing the developments in global climate politics between the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and Rio+20, this article unsettles the image of a clear shift in power, stressing instead the complexity of the changes that have taken place at the level of international bargaining as well as at the domestic and transnational levels. Within this picture, it is important not to overestimate the shifts in power that have taken place, or to underplay the continued relevance of understanding climate change within the North–South frame. Emerging powers will certainly remain at the top table of climate change negotiations, but their capacity actively to shape the agenda has been limited and has, in some respects, declined. Even though emerging powers have initiated and offered greater action on climate change, both internationally and domestically, they have been unable to compel the industrialized world to take more serious action on this issue, or to stop them from unpicking several of the key elements and understandings of the original Rio deal. At the same time, developing world coalitions on climate change have also fragmented, raising questions about the continued potency of the ‘global South’ in future climate politics.
Full Citation: Hurrell, A. and Sengupta, S. (2012). Emerging Powers, North-South Relations and Global Climate Politcs. International Affairs, 88 (3): 463-484.
International political economy and the environment: back to the basics?
Abstract: For the past two decades, scholars of international political economy and the environment (IPEE) have become quite focused on the study of various international cooperative initiatives that seek to link economic and environmental issues in the wake of the 1987 Brundtland Report and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. This important work has enhanced our understanding of topics such as the economic dimensions of international environmental governance, the environmental activities of international economic institutions and regimes, and new kinds of private international regimes governing the environment–economy interface. This focus of IPEE scholarship has, however, steered attention away from larger structural trends in the international political economy, whose environmental implications are not addressed explicitly by significant international governance arrangements. Three such trends that are deserving of more attention from IPEE scholars include: the globalization of financial markets; the rise of newly powerful states such as China and India in the global economy; and the recent emergence of high and volatile commodity prices. Each of these structural trends—as well as their interrelationships—have important environmental consequences whose closer study enhances our understanding of the relationship between the international political economy and the environment. Their study also encourages scholars to widen their focus beyond treaties, institutions and regimes to examine broader global economic structures and processes, and the power relationships within them, in an interdisciplinary manner that can draw inspiration from the pioneers of the field of international political economy from the 1970s.
Full Citation: Clapp, J. and Helleiner, E. (2012). International Political Economy and the Environment: Back to Basics? International Affairs, 88 93): 485-501.
Institutional diffusion in International Environmental Affairs
Abstract: This article explores institutional diffusion in international environmental governance, specifying the conditions under which an existing set of institutions provides a template for new institutions. Prior institutional experiences can help to resolve bargaining problems, reduce transaction costs and provide information about likely performance. The authors discuss five examples of institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs and outline some causal mechanisms and conditions that facilitate or block the diffusion of institutional characteristics. As a baseline analysis, founded on assumptions that abstract from politics, a functional argument is developed about the conditions under which mimetic diffusion, reflecting a pattern of imitation, can occur. Although the focus in this short article is on this functional argument, the authors recognize that state interests and power, ideology, and private interests also play significant roles in facilitating or inhibiting institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs.
Full Citation: Ovodenko, A. and Keohane, R.O. (2012). Institutional Diffusion in International Environmental Affairs. International Affairs, 88 (3): 523-541.
Engaging the public and the private in global sustainability governance
Abstract: Negotiators preparing for Rio+20 are missing an important opportunity. Private sustainability governance (PSG) is thriving: organizations created by business and civil society groups, as well as public–private partnerships, adopt and apply significant regulatory standards and undertake valuable operational activities, including pilot projects and financing. However, even though reforming the institutional framework for sustainable development is a central part of the Rio+20 agenda, negotiators are focusing almost exclusively on inter-governmental organizations such as the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the Commission for Sustainable Development and the Economic and Social Council. This public–private engagement gap isolates international governance from the energy and innovation of PSG, and impedes efforts to coordinate the bifurcated and decentralized system of sustainability governance. This article argues that states, and especially international organizations, should actively support PSG as part of the institutional framework for sustainable development, while steering private and public–private schemes towards good organizational practices and the pursuit of public goals. Engagement with PSG would help international institutions pursue their sustainability missions more effectively, promote the emergence of effective and legitimate private schemes, manage fragmentation, promote experimentation and learning, and enhance citizen participation. The article outlines two fruitful modes of engagement pioneered by UNEP: regulatory cooperation, in which international authorities engage directly with business firms, industry groups and other ‘targets’, influencing them to adopt more sustainable behaviors; and orchestration, in which authorities engage with intermediary organizations, such as multi-stakeholder private governance schemes, catalyzing, supporting and steering them as they seek to influence the ultimate targets of policy.
Full Citation: Abbott, K.W. (2012). Engaging the Public and the Private in Global Sustainability Governance. International Affairs, 88 (3): 543-564.
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