T16P02 - The Future of Environmental Policy in a Time of Global Crisis

Topic : Sustainable Development and Policy

Panel Chair : Anthony Zito - anthony.zito@ncl.ac.uk

Panel Second Chair : Sina Leipold - sina.leipold@ifp.uni-freiburg.de

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

From 1970 to 1995, global and national environmental policies spread throughout the OECD countries and beyond.  However, the global agenda, which seemed ripe and ready to devote political resources on this issue, has faced substantial political and economic crises. These realities have led countries held to be pioneers, such as the United States and the EU and the EU member states to be more equivocal in their efforts. Both policy-makers and students of environmental policy need to take stock of the trajectories of environmental policy and how best to study it. One set of issues involves the question of other global priorities, particularly in light of the global economic recession but also issues of political failings that have pushed the environment down the policy agenda. The second set of issues is the nature of the contemporary environmental problems – much of the ‘lower hanging fruit’ has been plucked in terms of environmental policy in the United States and Europe.  It is the more intractable and ‘wicked’ policy problems such as climate change and diffuse sources of pollution that remain. These are increasingly been tackled by the rise of new economic concepts such as the bio-based and the circular economy.

Third, in the context of greater challenges to the Western democratic political system, trust in the political system focused on certain liberal characteristics ameliorated by government intervention has been increasingly contested.

There is a strong comparative dimension to this proposal as there is a real question of how these trajectories are seen outside Western Europe and North America where strong industrialising logics create their own dynamics.  Are the BRIC and other industrialising states merely on the same wave of environmental policy development and governance trajectory or does it differ? And do Western countries react to these trajectories with new economy-oriented than environmental policies?

This proposal asks a series of questions.  If we accept that there is a change in approach of environmental policy in the last 10 years, what are the drivers behind this change? What new concepts of policy are developing and how? Are there multiple trajectories that global and national environmental regimes may take?  How reversible is environmental policy and what are the potential forces that might lead to future progress?  In terms of  studying these questions, what insights do various methodological offer, such as large N empirical analyses versus post-empirical assessments of individual cases. Is there a misfit between our current theoretical tools and the key developments and patterns in environmental policy? How much weight should be given to new approaches? Is a greater understanding of other disciplines (e.g. law, biosciences) required?


Call for papers

This panel addresses the question of the future of environmental policy-making in the face of the global economic crisis and other challenges.  The panel welcomes papers that take a strong comparative dimension in terms of comparing countries and regions, as well as policy making over the time.  All geographic regions are welcome. The panel welcomes a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to this study.  The panel papers should assess the question of what are the drivers of environmental policy that we have seen in the last ten years.  How has change happened and who or what is behind this change?  What is the trajectory for environmental governance and policy-making?  The panel welcomes papers that acknowledge that many of the questions may reside at multiple levels of analysis, such as the global level but also the regional, national and sub-national levels. Is this change being concentrated in particular political arenas and why? Where do new concepts like the bio-economy come from and how do they change environmental policy?

The panel seeks to collect a range of comparative perspectives on the trends and future of environmental policy making.  Are the governance trends that we see in the United States and the European Union, such as the rise of emissions trading systems, replicated in other parts of the world? What factors are pushing this?  How reversible is the environmental policy trajectory in the different regions of the world?


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