2013. június 28., péntek

The Role of State in Resolving Environmental Problems

The need for Green Politics /Green State

The rise of environmental movements in the industrialized nations usually attributed by some shift in society from materialist to post-materialist values: as the basic needs of safety and security have been fulfilled, people start to pursue more luxuriant causes, such as the quality of life[1].  Hence improving the environment safety may also improve the quality and safety of citizen’s life. For the range of threats to modern society covers a wide range, from growing environmental stresses (water shortages, deforestation, soil erosion to climate change), food and energy insecurity, peak oil, rising poverty and inequalities within and between societies, increasing passivity of citizens within democracies as well as the rise of corporate power within and over the democratic state can be summed up as „unsustainability” or „unsustainable development”.
Frequently, this is inspired by a sudden realization of the environmental consequences of everyday actions – choices people make in transportation, disposal of waste materials, etc. The developing environmental consciousness manifests itself as guilt and then a call-to-arms over everyday practice[2].  As environmental issues grows as a global political issue, a common response of the individual and the state: what can I do, and what can my state do to resolve environmental problems?
Green political theory has arisen with environmentalism, which itself emerged in the late 1960s. After the explosive economical growth following World War II that resulted in oligopoly forming in the modern economic landscape, the birth of a consumer society, the discrediting of former dominant ideologies created a series of system critique thought – among others the various strands of Green political thought[3].  Accordingly the environmentalism posed a sharp challenge to the traditional beliefs, that human beings had the collective capacity to dominate nature, also the conviction that human beings had the moral right, even responsibility, to do so.
In addition, within the next fifty years, the Earth’s human population will probably pass nine billion, and global economic output may quintuple. Largely as a result, scarcities of renewable resources will increase sharply. The total area of high-quality agricultural land will drop, as will the extent of forests and the number of species they sustain. Coming generations will also see the widespread depletion and degradation of water resources; the decline of many fisheries; and perhaps significant climate change[4].
The emergence of the environment as a political issue posed an important challenge to existing party systems by introducing a new source of potential conflict and giving rise to a new political party – the Greens. There is growing evidence that the way mainstream parties respond to the environmental dimension is important because parties matter[5].

Challenges for the Nation State

Global environmental change challenges the nation state in two ways. First, it increases the demand for proper and adaptive action, which places additional stress on of the current nation states to promote and protect the welfare of their populations as well as their living space[6]. Many environmental protection policies appear to be in conflict with the traditional policy priorities, notably with economic growth and competitiveness, in as much as in some ways, the entire form of social movement environmentalism challenges the power of nation states[7].  Several leading contemporary social theorists identify environmental concern as a major factor leading to the reshaping of nation-states during the past century. What are the factors which may be able to contribute to the development of "state environmentalism” or other words, state support for environmental protection?
First of all, there is recognition of the necessity to improve environmental efficiency, promote a free market economy and also to enhance a pluralist, democratic political system in order to achieve a long-term economic growth. This post-industrial setting is seen as the fundamental for the „new social movements” which include the anti-nuclear movement and the political ecology movements and so on. In addition, there is a lot of ideas about the policies states should pursue to resolute environmental problems: tax a range of eco-bad activities, subsidize eco-good activities in production, transport, energy, agriculture; strict defensible standards for environmental quality of land, water and air; co-operate fully with international efforts to alleviate crises associated with climate warming and ozone depletion, etc.  But what can we realistically expect the state to act, in other words to hear and to respond to apparent environmental imperatives?
Many analysts believe that, according to current circumstances, and the states present form, it either cannot or will not do so - at least not enough to address the environmental crisis in all its depth[8]. Could it be that the contemporary state is capable to perform sustainability? Consequently, the environmental political thought faces fundamental difficulties. „Perhaps the greatest challenge facing green political theory is to flesh out in more detail what a green state would look like.”[9]
From a green perspective it makes much more sense to think in terms of further democratization rather than a whole, new, substantively different conception of the state. The green political theory has not only refused authoritarianism and anarchism, but has also tended to criticize liberal democracy as a form that is lacking in its capacity to respond to environmental challenges[10]. Hence the green constitutional proposals often seek to extend the scope of state protection beyond the liberal conception of the possessive individual, to assign rights, or at least moral consideration, to the socially oppressed and disadvantaged, to future human generations, and even to non-human beings[11].

What are the expectations towards the State?        

At first glance the concept of a green state might viewed by many people as a kind of utopian idea. Does it mean a benevolent state, presiding over an ecological utopia, simply a stuff of green dreams? Or is it a strict regime of ecological controls and resource rationing? These visions highlight very real divisions among environmentalists, green political theorists, and green party followers about the proper role and future potential of the nation-state in managing ecological problems. The environmental problems makes the state ought to be doing in public policy suppose a more fundamental normative theory of the proper character and role of the nation-state with its own society and territory, likewise the society of states, global civil society, including the global environment[12].
In practical terms, the state should order to implement green policies for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as well as take action to raise mall and medium sized companies  (SMEs) awareness of environmental and energy-related issues and is providing support to assist them implementing legislation, promoting environmental innovation and future technology[13] . The state should create a culture of sustainability that will pervade the decision-making process, which will result in a combination of physical and capital changes, moreover makes efforts in reducing our carbon footprint and our reliance on non-renewable, carbon based sources of energy.
Enabling the constructive participation of civil society, the state enables to contribute the Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) other non-state actors such as academic or research institutions, since in the global environmental governance, the NGOs playing the most important roles, as NGOs involved in environmental governance are highly diverse, including local, national, regional, and international groups with various tasks dedicated to environmental protection, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, animal welfare, etc.[14]
In abstract terms, the green state aims at ‘sustainable development’ which means, inter alia, the state should acts as a kind of embodiment of the higher, general interests of a society, makes efforts to the practical realization of certain fundamental social, political and economic ideals[15], such as the promotion of justice and equality and the protection of basic human rights and freedoms.  Further, the state from a green point of view should lowering socio- economic inequalities, abolishing environmental injustices as well as ensuring the needs of the human economy will not overcome the regenerative capacities of the eco-systems. As we can see, sustainable development is a radical proposal, not only includes “ecologising” or “greening” of the current political and economic order[16].
Among these reformist proposals may be viewed as interim staging posts such as „ecological modernization” or “natural capitalism”. The ecological modernization urged by a state suggest, that competitiveness and growth are not incompatible with environmental protection. Future economic prospects increasingly depend on achieving and maintaining the relatively high standards of environmental protection.[17]
            The „green welfarism” or green social democracy be constructed as an attempt politically to regulate a quote of production (through setting emission standards for example and the use of market instruments, encourage self-regulation).  The „polluter-pays” legislation, the precautionary principle, or mandatory environmental impact assessments for instance are the key elements of the state methods to answer environmental issues. By this reason the ecological modernization of the state can be viewed as and ecological dimension to the modern state’s „crisis management” function, and also marks the transformation of the state toward a „competition state”[18]. Regarding the essence of the state role to face environmental problems, the state has to take a leading, coordinating and supporting role, by terms of advocating the former mentioned technological innovation and higher economic and ecologically efficient use of resources and energy.
Secondly, the extension of environmental human rights would be a fundamental condition of a number of rights such, for example rights to be informed of proposed developments in a particular local area, rights to information about environmental impact assessments, rights to freedom of assembly to facilitate protests against unwanted or harmful development, and extended rights to self-determination including rights to participate in decision-making forums[19]. The legal recognition of such rights would have a positive impact on the democratic authentications of environmental decision-making procedures, which would be able to help facilitate environmental justice, and would also promote sustainable society.
Given that constitutional provisions are among the most basic political structures of any society, any change in the constitution in a green a suo placito sustainable direction could cause a significant turn in the political order. That is the reason why the green political thought seeking the ways of transition via the constitutional level. The constitutional arrangements can secure the regulation of economic actors such as corporations and legal definitions of such key economic relations such as private property.  In other words, constitutional level political changes can alter and redistribute political and economic power within and also between the societies. Thus issues of environmental injustice and inequalities can be addressed by constitutional changes, especially, in relation to the regulation of the economy[20].

Barriers to Green State

None the less, the state possess a certain paradoxical or contradictory character by terms of inclusion and exclusion, emancipation and oppression, inasmuch as environmental protection and exploitation[21]. As for the reasons, the reality of the contemporary state can carry out rather characterized by its complex structure struggles against the application of both unidimensional moral principles and simple demonstrative models. Since the state is constituted by a concentration of pressure coming from configurations of resources that result from the active pursuit of power. Secondly, the history and anthropology of the modern state centres on imperatives of capital accumulation, and the coercion of military purposes. Its economic and military functions are integral keys of the modern state's real form, and the notion of growth is central to all development strategies[22]
Thus the public and private exploitation of the physical environment for economic growth, for the reason of pursuit power and military success is built into the basic nature of the state. As developing countries will suffer most from a lack of capacities to address the social, economic and environmental problems within their territorial boundaries, it can be predicted that the capabilities of these states will be adjusted mostly by global environmental change[23]. Further, environmental protection and preservation would seem to run counter to the main imperatives constituting states: the need to secure economic stability and growth, the need to keep social order[24].
According to most economists, certain problems arising from the production process are “externalities”, which must be dealt with by the state as the vehicle for compulsory collective action. The state is responsible for “public goods”, such as the pollution control. None the less, economic theory does not describe the “real” state, but an ideal.  Yet the state is a real, historical and anthropological entity, and not an ideal theoretical construct[25].  For this, state and state institutions are often in a contradictory position as promoters of economic development and as environmental regulators. New institutions, notably the environmental review process, have been developed to legitimate the ongoing state and private activities, that creates a public controversy surrounding the environmental review[26]
Therefore, under these conditions, the environmental problems dispatched to the “periphery” of international relations.[27] IR scholars did not begin writing about the environment until the late 1980s, when, following a general rise in public and governmental environmental concern and the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)[28].  The study of global environmental politics has become the study of intergovernmental negotiations, institution-building and state effectiveness. 
Besides, the developing of international environmental relations lead to global relations among regional and local actors rather than the traditional inter-state relations by governments create international agreements to resolve environmental, economic, technological, and legal problems that they could not solve by themselves. In the absence of a transnational government, governments of states realize that they need new rules, multilateral institutions, and governance structures to promote cooperation, prevent and resolve conflicts.[29]

Transnational  Environmental Protection

As global relations was begun by the phenomenon of transnational relations by further conditioning of the role of nation states. Even where the state still preserves a principal focus, the traditional notion of national security becomes confused, since the environment does not recognize neither political nor territorial boundaries[30]. The state-centric focus of much international relations theory has traditionally omitted the former mentioned roles and activities of non-state actors –environmental movements, corporations, or even scientists for instance – in influencing existing, and even creating their own, governance institutions[31]
Construction of transnational environmental protection was stimulated over the past four decades through intensive international conference diplomacy. Among others, focusing on the most significant ones, beginning in 1972 with the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, a series of major United Nations-sponsored international conferences discussed on formulating action plans for answering global environmental problems. Twenty years after Stockholm, the above mentioned United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) convened in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, to make governments to rethink economic development and find ways to stop the pollution of the planet, propose renewable energy and sustainable development[32].
Although not reaching all of its aims, UNCED made three notable success in promoting international environmental legal rules. First, the Conference adopted the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity; second, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was designed. Third, the Conference drafted and adopted by consensus Agenda 21, a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. Agenda 21 presents a blueprint for state action that both builds on existing laws and serves to initiate new ones. International agreements for regulating high seas activities were negotiated by special United Nations conferences, as well as by ad hoc multilateral arrangements. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) supplies the contemporary framework that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
Life could not exist without the Earth’s atmosphere, in respond to the various threats of human activities, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was negotiated in 1985 and the 1987 Montreal Protocol set out a schedule for the progressive phase out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Kyoto Protocol was in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. clearly suggests that international environmental regimes
These arrangements are connected to international networks of expertise and funding. Partnerships can, at least theoretically, assemble a coalition of partners from a worldwide environmentally protective organizations, national and international. That legal frameworks established for internationally managing activities in the oceans, atmosphere, and highlights a critical realization by governments that no state or group of states can satisfactorily deal with these global problems alone[33].


Regarding the challenges for the green state, there is a promotion of capitalist accumulation, the way in which the state is inevitably bound up with. Second, the “democratic deficits” of the liberal democratic state, inasmuch as the liberal state is regarded by many green political theorists as unable to respond ecological problems in a proper manner. According most of the green theorist, the “green state” not merely a liberal democratic state that is managed by a green party government with a set of programmatic environmental goals. A democratic state that made commitment to answer environmental problems and are informed by ecological democracy rather than liberal democracy.
The environmental change increases the mutual dependence of nation states, to resolve environmental problems, the governments and states realized that the environmental multilateral environmental treaties, declarations, and international environmental standards means the only solution the current threats. It also gave rise of the concept sustainable development and “ecological modernization” as competitive strategies of states[34].
By facing environmental problems makes states confront a situation in which complex transnational problems arise, that a single state or small group of states not capable to resolve on their own, the state according to green definition rather manifests in a transboundary democracy than a selfish behavior protecting its territory. Thus it poses a fundamental challenge to traditional notions and concept of the nation, of national sovereignty, and the organization of democracy in terms of an enclosed territorial space[35]. It requires new democratic procedures, new decision rules, new forms of political representation and participation by extend the legal space and frame for certain non-governmental actors, civil societies and also requires more understandings among states and peoples. This perspective ultimately argues that a more democratic, or participatory, vision of global governance, and may can lead toward an environmentally sustainable world.

[1] Peter Ho: Greening Without Conflict? Environmentalism, NGOs and Civil Society in China. Development and Change Vol. 32. Institute of Social Studies, Oxford 2001. p 839.
[2] Paul Dourish: HCI and Environmental Sustainability:The Politics of Design and the Design of Politics. Proceedings of the DIS 2010 Conference, p. 1-10.
[3] Tordai Bence: Ökologizmus, ököpolitika, ökopártok: zöld politikai gondolkodás elméletben és gyakorlatban (Ecologism, Ecopolitics, Green Parties: the Green Political Thouth Theory and Practice) Budapest, 2011. p.5.
[4]  Thomas F. Homer-Dixon: Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases. : International Security, Vol. 19, No. 1. 1994, p.5.
[5] Neil Carter: Greening the mainstream: party politics and the environment. Environmental Politics, 2013
Vol. 22, No. 1. p. 73
[6] Frank Biermann, Klaus Dingwerth: Global Environmental Change and the Nation State. Global Environmental Politics Vol.4. No. 1, 2004. p.2.
[7] Timothy Doyle, Brian Doherty: Green public spheres and the green governance state: the politics of emancipation and ecological conditionality. Environmental Politics,Vol. 15, No. 5. 2006. p. 884.
[8] Michael Saward: Green state/democratic state. Contemporary Politics, Vol. 4, No. 4. 1998. p. 345.
[9]  John Barry, 'The Limits of The Shallow and The Deep', Environmental Politics, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1994, p. 381.
[10]  Douglas Torgerson: Constituting Green Democracy: A Political Project. The Good Society, Vol. 17, No. 2. 2008. p. 21.
[11] Douglas Torgerson: p. 20.
[12] Robyn Eckersley: The Green State. Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty. Cambridge, 2004. p.1.
[13]陈文娴; 王寒: 政府采购中的绿色政策目标. 中国政府采购 (China Government Procurement) No. 10., 2006. p.51.
[14] Barbara Gemmill, Abimbola Bamidele-Izu: The Role of NGOs and Civil Societyin Global Environmental Governance. In: Esty DC, Ivanova MH, editors, Global environmental governance: options and opportunities. Princeton, 2002 .p.3.
[15]宁淼; 王奇; 叶文虎: 区域可持续发展战略规划的理论与方法研究. 中国人口•资源与环境 (China Pollution Resources and Environment). Vol. 16. No. 3. 2006. p.38.
[16] John Barry: Towards a Green Republicanism:Constitutionalism, Political Economy, and the Green State. The Good Society, Vol. 17. No. 2. 2008. p. 3.
[17] Jonh Barry: Ecological Modernisation. Jonh S. Dryzek, David Scholsberg: Debating the Earth. The Environmental Politics Reader. New York, 2005. p. 303.
[18] Jonh Barry:. p. 308.
[19] John Barry: Towards a Green Republicanism:Constitutionalism, Political Economy, and the Green State. The Good Society, Vol. 17. No. 2. 2008. p. 5.
[20] John Barry: p. 5.
[21] Robyn Eckersley:  p. 33.
[22] Stefan Andreasson: Accumulation and Growth to What End? Reassessing the Modern Faith in Progress in the “Age of Development”. Capitalism Nature Socialism Vol. 16. No.4. 2005.p. 60.
[23] Frank Biermann, Klaus Dingwerth: Global Environmental Change and the Nation State. Global Environmental Politics Vol.4. No. 1, 2004. p.12.
[24]  Michael Saward: p. 348.
[25]  Michael Saward: p. 350.
[26] Joel Novek and Karen Kampen: Sustainable or Unsustainable Development? An Analysis of an Environmental Controversy. The Canadian Journal of Sociology. Vol. 17, No. 3, 1992. p. 251.
[27] Steve Smith: 'The Environment on the Periphery of International Relations: An Explanation',Environmental Politics, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1993. pp. 28-45.
[28] Susanne Jakobsen: International Relations and Global Environmental Change. Cooperation and Conflict. 1999 vol. 34 no. 2 206.p.
[29] Joyner, Christopher C. “Rethinking International Environmental Regimes: What Role for Partnership Coalitions? Journal of International Law & International Relations 1.1–2.2005. p. 89.
[30] John Vogler: Indtroduction. The enviroment in International Relations: legagies and contentions. Jonh Vogler, Mark Imbe (ed): Environment and Internatinal Relations. Theories and Process. New York, 1996. p. 1-18.
[31] Kate O’Neill: The Enviroment and International Relations. Cambridge, 2009. p.2.
[32] Christopher C. “Rethinking International Environmental Regimes: What Role for Partnership Coalitions?.  Journal of International Law & International Relations 1.1–2. 2005. p.94.
[33] Christopher C. : p.118.
[34] Robyn Eckersley: pp. 14-15.
[35] Robyn Eckersley: pp. 14-15.