Conclusion Future Trends in Transborder Air Pollution Control

All three of the agreements mentioned above have a recurring theme. They lack a direct enforcement mechanism or body. This fact contributes the most to these regimes' failures to substantially reduce transborder air pollution. While economic leverage may seem like a viable solution to enforcement of environmental regime regulations, the reality is that member states must first become willing participants of an agreement. Connecting protectionist trade policies to environmental regimes has a potential to prevent countries from signing the agreement altogether. Potential member states must feel that the regime is beneficial to them over all. An effective, if indirect, form of enforceability in a regime is transparency and accountability [1]. The LRTAP agreement was the most successful of the three agreements in this area because it required regular reporting from its member states of actions they were taking to comply with the agreement and the effects these actions were having on that country's air pollution problem. Because of the multi-lateral efforts to cooperate scientifically, this made false reporting undesirable. It was unlikely that an LRTAP member country could submit a false report without being caught [1].

Additionally, transparency of regimes is essential because it allows for the involvement of international civil society [27]. International civil society consists of scientists, non-governmental environmental organizations, the media, and other interest groups. By making the information available about the level of involvement and compliance of member states with regime regulations, international civil society is empowered with the knowledge to apply pressure to non-compliers. This can be an effective tactic in affecting the behavior of non-complying countries.

Another solution is to stop the problem at the source with agreements that are already in place. There is no denying that trade and the environment are inherently linked. Trade liberalization encourages production, which can increase environmental degradation. A poorly managed environment will ultimately lead to more expensive inputs or, worse, fewer inputs for the various modes of production required to make trade profitable. Therefore, it is essential that trade liberalization agreements incorporate environmental quality standards into their provisions. Amendments to these trade accords to follow NAFTA standards could eventually prevent the need for the formation of additional international environmental regimes. The problems would be mitigated before the need for such an organization arose.

The literature in favor and against linking trade benefits to compliance with environmental regulations is sizable. In the case of Eastern Europe and Mexico, trade restrictions may hinder rather than help the efforts to reduce emissions. This is because these countries are already experiencing economic difficulties that prevent them from complying with agreements in the first place. Adding to this problem with trade restrictions would have a counter effect. Using models like RAINS, which takes into account least cost solutions and cost benefit analysis, is a step in the right direction. Still, more needs to be done in the development of better models for assessing low cost alternatives. In the case of developing nations, it is important for countries like the United States, Western Europe and other developed nations involved in these regimes to provide assistance in order to achieve the target reductions agreed upon. This assistance could come in the form of low interest loans, like the ODA programs of Japan. These low-interest loans have been instrumental in the development of Chinese environmental projects that have led to reductions in acid deposition [21].

Another solution that needs to be explored is the development of cleaner technology. Continuing with green technology transfer and development between countries is an essential element for success. Many regimes provide for low cost technology transfer but not development. Additionally, there is little emphasis on multi-lateral development of alternative technologies that may reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the main contributor to air pollution. Again, members of these three regimes could stand to learn from the cooperative efforts of China and Japan. They have set up a joint fund to cover pollution abatement technologies. The success of the joint scientific studies of these regimes to identify transborder air pollution causes and effects indicates that additional collaborative efforts to develop technology could prove very effective.

The costs of adopting such technology, regardless of the development costs saved through multilateral cooperation, could prevent the economic viability of these alternatives in the current market economy. That is why when considering almost any environmental solutions, whether those developed through regime involvement or domestically, it is necessary to consider the true value of inputs and outputs. While traditional economics puts value on labor and capital, economic models often fail to account for the negative externalities of production and the less tangible, but no less important, market effects. Essentially, regime recommendations will not be considered economically viable by member countries until the values of economic indicators are changed to account for the true cost of unchecked pollution. This is because the costs of production in the market economy seem significantly lower when money does not have to be invested into pollution abatement or alternative energy technologies. The theories for applying quantitative values to environmental externalities are unfortunately beyond the scope of this paper. We do want to point out, however, that until previously ignored quantifiable costs (i.e., negative externalities) are fully incorporated, and important non-quantifiable costs and benefits are somehow included in market transactions any international pollution regime will, ultimately, fail.

Finally, the success of these regimes in combating transborder air pollution is essential if formation of other international regimes to alleviate global environmental problems is to follow. While the majority of international regimes have been formed to address regional transborder air pollution, the discovery of and research into intercontinental transport (ICT) of air pollutants may lead to the development of environmental regimes on a hemisphere or even global scale [22]. This is because the only way to effectively reduce the occurrence of ICT air pollutants is for countries to engage in multi-lateral agreements. This relates back to the common pool nature of air. It is imperative that successful regime characteristics be identified and followed if the formation of such a regime is to be successful.

While the LRTAP, the U.S.—Canada MOI and the La Paz agreements have not completely mitigated the problems associated with transborder air pollution, they definitely have the potential to become successful regimes. Maintaining transparency and accountability are essential elements for the compliance of member states. Amending trade agreements to combat environmental degradation at its source could eventually absorb the need for further regime formation. Additionally, recognizing the economic hardship of developing nations and accounting for that in these agreements through low interest loans or aid could help bring these nations up to par with global environmental standards. Also, adjusting economic indicators to reflect the true cost of pollution will show the real economic consequences and the necessity of adopting regime regulations. Finally, international regimes are in a unique position to benefit from collaboration on the development of alternative technologies that would reduce their dependence on the energy sources that are the main contributors to transborder air pollution. These elements are necessary if regimes to address other global atmospheric issues are to have a successful model to follow.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

Always wanted to get a better deal but didn't have the needed negotiation skills? Here are some of the best negotiation theories. The ability to negotiate is a skill which everyone should have. With the ability to negotiate you can take charge of your life, your finances and your destiny. If you feel that others are simply born with the skill to negotiate, you should know that everyone can learn this wonderful skill.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment