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Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

10. Trade and the environment  

This chapter explores the complex and multifaceted relationship between international trade and environmental protection. The global trade regime's normative principles, legal rules, and real-world consequences often contradict environmental governance. For example, there is tension between trade and environmental governance with respect to the commercialisation of endangered species, export of hazardous wastes, emissions involved in transporting goods, and patentability of living organisms. However, there are also synergies, which enable trade liberalisation and environmental protection to reinforce one another. For example, trade forces were key drivers in the reduction of ozone-depleting substances and the affordability of pollution abatement technologies. The chapter explores these conflicts and synergies by first discussing the literature that examines the positive and negative impacts that trade has on the environment. It goes on to look at the trade dimensions of various environmental regimes, and then environmental dimensions of the trade regime, within both the World Trade Organization and preferential trade agreements.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of the Earth

6. Leave It to the Market  

Economic Rationalism

Economic rationalism involves the intelligent deployment of market instruments to achieve public ends such as environmental protection and resource conservation. The instruments in question can involve the establishment of private property rights in land, air, and water; “cap and trade” markets in pollution rights (emissions trading); tradeable quotes in resources such as fish; green taxes, such as a carbon tax; and the purchase of offsets to compensate for environmentally damaging behavior. These instruments have been adopted in many countries, though with some resistance from those who believe there is more to life than economic reasoning.