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Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

13. International Trade and Environmental Protection  

This chapter looks at the relationship between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and international trade in terms of international environmental law. Twenty-five years after the WTO system came into operation it appears that neither trade law nor environmental law have trumped each other. Rather, there has been a process of accommodation which is still ongoing. The chapter ends by making some conclusions on the arguments presented in this book and the issues currently being faced. The current policy of encouraging free trade cannot always be made environmentally friendly and this will always be the case. The problem becomes clear if we consider climate change. Free trade and globalisation by nature exacerbates the difficulties of regulating environmental issues. In addition, one of the key problems with sustainable development as a concept is that there has been too much emphasis on development, and not nearly enough on sustainability, then a policy of promoting free trade is part of that problem.

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Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

2. International Governance and the Formulation of Environmental Law and Policy  

This chapter examines the institutions of global governance responsible for formulating and implementing international environmental policy and law. It starts by defining global governance as a continuing process via which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated. This provides the environment where cooperative action may be taken. Global governance includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements. In this situation, there is no single model or form of global governance, nor is there a single structure or set of structures. Global governance, therefor, is a broad, dynamic, complex, process of interactive decision-making. The chapter also looks at the differences in international environmental policy and law today compared to when this book first published twenty-five years previously.

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Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

6. Climate Change and Atmospheric Pollution  

This chapter looks, inter alia, at how international law has been used or could be used to help tackle the most significant environmental challenge of our time. This challenge is global climate change. Not many topics provide a good illustration of the importance of a globally inclusive regulatory regime focused on preventive and precautionary approaches to environmental harm—or of the problems of negotiating one on such a complex subject. Solutions to global climate change have not been easily forthcoming. The chapter looks at the efforts of the international regulatory regime to address these challenges by recourse to novel ‘market based’ mechanisms and differential treatment. An example is the post-Kyoto scheme for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through ‘nationally determined contributions’. In the end, the chapter argues, it is likely to be technology that enables us to grapple with the causes of climate change, not law, but law can drive technological change, as it has with ozone depletion and acid rain.

Chapter

Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

7. Nuclear Energy and the Environment  

This chapter gives the example of the Chernobyl reactor accident in 1986 to show that nuclear power creates risks for all states, irrespective of whether they choose this type of energy. Every state, and the global environment, is potentially affected by the possibility of radioactive contamination, the spread of toxic substances derived from nuclear energy, and the long-term health hazards consequent on exposure to radiation. Whether the nuclear power industry has now attained acceptable levels of risk to international society cannot be answered in the abstract, the chapter argues, or solely by reference to regulatory standards and technical capabilities, but must take into account public perceptions of risk, as well as the alternatives and the competing risks, such as climate change. The chapter notes that for all governments there are inevitably difficult policy choices in which there are few electoral advantages.