ABSTRACT

Much has been written about the challenge of truly solving environmental problems. Some difficulties stem from an inability to separate basic socio-economic lifestyle issues from conditional and consequential environmental effects. Other difficulties stem from scientific and technical uncertainties in cause-effect relationships. Although science is a critical input, the task of developing policy responses to environmental problems is not a dry problem-solving exercise best left to ecological 'experts'. Nor will suitable responses be worked out by economists or other theorists alone, although the insights of diverse scholars are essential. In reality, responses are hacked out in long negotiations among parties with partially overlapping and partially conflicting interests and information. A mass of political, economic and coordination issues must be addressed in addition to the scientific matters. Even after all the issues are examined, the result as set out in an agreement is not a final solution to the environmental problem. Rather, the agreement sets up or changes the ways governments place constraints on how people go about their business. International environmental negotiations are about negotiating changes in the rules of environmental management.