This chapter explores the ideas and debates which shape global environmental politics. At least three types of socially constructed ideas play a key role in international environmental governance: world views, causal beliefs, and social norms. However, ideas are not universally shared, which means that ideological clashes are a feature of global environmental governance. The chapter looks at five of the major ideological debates that have marked the evolution of global environmental governance. The first two debates present conflicting world views: the first concerns the scope of environmental values, while the second examines the intrinsic values of non-human organisms. The following two debates concern causal beliefs: one is about the relationship between human intervention and environmental protection, while the other concerns the relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation. The last debate considers different social norms related to environmental justice and the appropriate behaviours expected towards historically marginalized populations.
2. Ideas about environmental protection
1. Interconnections between science and politics
This chapter discusses the complex and multifaceted relationship between science and politics. Although science and politics each follow a distinct logic and pursue distinct objectives, they are inextricably connected to one another. On the one hand, science influences political debates, by drawing attention to certain problems and providing necessary justifications for political action. On the other hand, political dynamics, including political values and power relations, structure the conduct of science. The chapter highlights the different aspects of the co-production of science and politics, in the framework of international environmental debates. An increasing number of studies on global environmental governance suggest that science and politics are co-produced. As they shape each other, it is impossible to understand one without considering the other. Political interactions are partly based on available knowledge, and scientific production is a social practice that is conditioned by its political context.