University of Edinburgh
Graduate School of Social and Political Science
MSc International Relations; MSc International European Politics
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS
Semester 2 (Spring 2012)
Course Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Bomberg
Chrystal Macmillan Building, room 3.06
office tel: 650 4248
office hours: Thursdays, 11am-1pm
I. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
This course examines the key actors and political dynamics shaping global environmental issues. Environmental challenges are profoundly political and involve issues of power, sovereignty, justice and political action. The global dimension of environmental issues pose additional distinctive challenges. Who are the key actors shaping global environmental politics? What are the main challenges and why do they take the form they do? What makes agreement so difficult to achieve? In this course students will draw on scholarship from environmental politics and international relations to help understand the distinctive challenges and dynamics of global environmental politics.
Summary of intended learning outcomes:
This course should enable students to:
-develop a critical understanding of the main areas of study, including key concepts, actors and dynamics characterizing global environmental politics
-engage critically with the work of major environmental politics and international relations scholars, and evaluate their arguments in the light of the practical dilemmas posed by global environmental challenges;
-assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues in global environmental politics;
-develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments surrounding contemporary global environmental issues, actors and dynamics;
-Use a range of research skills to plan and execute a significant project of research on a major global environmental issue.
Weekly seminars meet Thursdays 14:00-16.00 inDHT 4.18
Seminar Programme: Overview
Week 1 (19 Jan): Studying Global Environmental Politics: Environmental Context
Week 2 (26 Jan): Studying Global Environmental Politics: International Context
Week 3 (2Feb): States and governments
Week 4 (9Feb): Economic interests
Week 5 (16Feb): Environmental movements and NGOs
Week 6: (20-24 Feb) innovative teaching week: no lecture or seminars
Week 7 (1 Mar): Scientific experts, citizens and the media
Week 8 (8 Mar): International organisations and regimes
Week 9 (15 March) Global Sustainable Development
Week 10 (22Mar): Climate change 1: Comparative dimensions
Week 11 (29 Mar): Climate change 2: actors and agreements
Week 12 (5April) Optional: student present policy report ideas
Policy Report due Fri Apr 204pm
The course guide, announcements, extra readings (as available) are available on WebCT beginning Week 1. Presentation slides will also be posted there. We will also use WebCT to share and discuss news, events and issues arising in seminar discussion
II. COURSE ASSESSMENT
The assessment for this course has two components:
1. Policy Report : 3000-3500 words (75%) DUE 20 APRIL 2012, 4pm
Students will choose from a list of global agreements on an international environmental issue (including climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, sustainable development). The reports will include a brief overview, a substantive analysis explaining why the agreement took the form it did, and an evaluation of its impact or prospects(see Appendix 1).
2. Seminar performance (25%)
Seminar performance will comprise seminar attendance and participation, weekly reading summaries, individual and group presentations. These will be explained fully to the students in week 1 and monitored by the convenor throughout the semester. Student will receive a (non-binding) mid-term seminar mark and indication of their seminar strengths and weaknesses.
Students with learning disabilities:
Advice, guidance and a range of support materials is available to students with certified learning difficulties such as dyslexia. These students should contact - in advance of coursework deadlines - the Disability Office for further information:
III. GENERAL READINGS AND RESOURCES
Below is a list of general readings and resources that you will find helpful throughout the course. (Additional readings specific to weekly topics are listed in Section IV.) Library shelfmarks are provided where known, but note it is always best to check the on-line catalogue for updated information. Unless otherwise stated books are in the Main library (most in the reserve section). You might also find the Law Library (in Old College) useful; it carries many works on environmental law and EU policy.
There is no one core text for the course but we will rely heavily on the following texts and you are encouraged to purchase at least one of them.
- Gabriela Kütting (ed),Global Environmental Politics. Concepts, Theories and Case Studies. (Routledge 2011);
- Jennifer Clapp and Peter Dauvergne Paths to a Green World. The Political Economy of the Global Environment, 2nd ed.( MIT, 2011).
- Regina Axelrod,et al(eds.) The Global Environment, 2nd ed. (CQ Press 2005)
I have asked Blackwells (South Bridge) and Word Power (W Nicholson Street) to order it for their stocks.
Other Recommended General Texts (both on reserve): Neil Carter The Politics of the Environment. Ideas, Activism, Policy 2nd ed (Cambridge Univ Press, 2007). It is also available as an e-book through the library ; John Dryzek and David Schlosberg, D. Debating the Earth: the Environmental Politics Reader, 2nd ed. GE170 Deb (Oxford Univ Press, 2005)
The library holds several journals of particular relevance for this course. The three of most use will be:
- Environmental Politics(available electronically)
- Global Environmental Politics(available electronically)
- Global Environmental Change (available electronically)
Several other journals occasionally carry helpful articles related to global environmental politics: these include the Economist; Environmental Policy and Law (official UN documents and reviews); European Environmental Law Review (Law library) Foreign Affairs; Government and Policy; International Affairs; Journal of European Public Policy; New Scientist;Review of Policy Research;Sustainable Development; Sustainable Development Law and Policy. Most of these journals are now available electronically, although not for all years.
I have attached a list of useful sites (see Appendix 3).
IV. READING LIST BY TOPICS
- Asterisked [*] readings offer either a particularly relevant or insightful analysis,
or a particularly useful overview.
- (e) denotes reading is available electronically
WEEK 1 (19 Jan) Studying Global Environmental Politics: Environmental Context
Carter, N. (2007) The Politics of the Environment. Ideas, Activism, Policy, 2nd ed.Introduction and/or chapter 9 (Global Environmental Politics)
*Clapp, J. and Dauvergne, P. (2011) Paths to a Green World. Chap 1 (Peril or Prosperity?)
Connelly, J. and Smith,G. (2003) Politics and the Environment. From Theory to Practice
De Sombre, E. (2006) Global Environmental Institutions GE170 Des
Dinar, S (2011) ‘Environmental Security’ in Kütting, ed Global Environmental Politics, chapter 4, GE 170 Glo
Dobson, A. (2007) Green Political Thought, 4thed. (earlier editions available as e-book) (chapt 3: ‘The Sustainable Society’) JA 75.8 Dob
Dobson, A. (ed) (1991) The Green Reader, Part 1 (‘The Green Critique’) TD 170 Gre (excerpts by Carson, Lovelock, Schumacher)
Doyle, T. and McEachern, D. (2001), Environment and Politics, GE 170 Doy, chapter 7
*Dryzek, J. and Schlosberg, D. (2005) Debating the Earth: the Environmental Politics Reader, 2nd ed. GE170 Deb. Part One : Feast or Famine?
Layzer, L (2006) The Environmental Case GE 180 Lay
*Lomborg, B (2001) The Skeptical Environmentalist. Measuring the Real State of the World GE 149 Lom, Part I (available at: (see also reviews in Environmental Politics vol 11(2); and through CUP website:
*Ostrom, E. (2010) Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change Global Environmental Change vol 20(4): 550-557
Roberts, J. (2011) Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 2 (environmental problems)(e-book)
Schlosberg, D. (2002) Environmental Justice and the New Pluralism: The Challenge of Difference for Environmentalism (e-book)
*Vig, N. (2001) ‘Introduction: Governing the International Environment’ in Axelrod, et al, The Global Environment, chapter 1
Weale, A. (1992) The New Politics of Pollution, HC240.9.E5 P55chapter 1
Seminar Topics for Week 1: Does an ‘environmental crisis’ exist? What makes environmental issues so contested?
WEEK 2 (26 Jan): Studying Global Environmental Politics: International Dimension
(nb: also review readings from week 1)
Anton, D (2011) Environmental Protection and Human Rights (Law Library, K3585 Ant).
Birnie, P. (2009) International Law and the Environment. (Law Library, reserve, K3585 Bir.)
Bretherton, C. (2003) ‘Movements, Networks, Hierarchies: A Gender Perspective on Global Environmental Governance’ Global Environmental Politics, vol 3 (2): 103-19 (e)
*Carter, N. (2007) The Politics of the Environment. Ideas, Activism, Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 9 (Global Environmental Politics)
*Clapp, J. and Dauvergne, P. (2011) Paths to a Green World. Chapt 2 (‘The Globalization of Environmentalism’)
Dauvergne, P. (2005) Handbook of global environmental politics GE 170 Han
De Sombre, E. (2002) The Global Environment and World Politics GE170 Des
Elliot, L. (2004) The Global Politics of the Environment, 2nded., GE 170 Ell, chpt 6, 9
Fitzmaurice, M. (2009) Contemporary Issues in International Environmental Law (e-book)
Floyd, R. (2010) Security and the environment : securitisation theory and US environmental security policy(introduction) GE180 Flo
Porter, G. (2000) Global Environmental Politics, 3rd ed GE170 Port
Roberts, J. (2011) Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 7 (Intl environmental policy) (e-book)
Sands, P and Peel, J ‘Environmental Protection in the 21st Century: Sustainable Development and International Law in Perspective’ in Axelrod, A. The Global Environment, chapter 3 (K3 585.4 Glo)
Smith, M (2009) ‘Against ecological sovereignty: Agamben, politics and globalisation’ Environmental Politics vol 18(1): 99-116
Soros, M (2005) ‘Global Institutions and the Environment : An Evolutionary Perspective’ in Axelrod, A. The Global Environment, chapter 2(K3585.4 Glo)
Speth, J. (2006) Global Environmental Governance HC79 E5 Spe
Vogler, J. (2008) ‘Environmental Issues’ in Baylis and Smith, The Globalization of World Politics, chapter 20
*Vogler, J. (2011) ‘International Relations theory and the environment’ in Kütting, ed Global Environmental Politics, chapter 1, GE 170 Glo
Seminar topics for week 2: Should environmental issues be considered security issues? Are environmental issues ‘fundamentally issues of international justice’?
WEEK 3 (2 Feb):States and governments
Review weeks 1-2 readings
*Carter, N. (2007) Politics of the Environment, chapter 11
Connelly, J and Smith, G. (2003) Politics and the Environment. GE170 Con., Part II
Doyle, T. and McEachern, D. (2001), Environment and Politics, 2nd ed.GE 170 Doy
Dryzek, J., Downes, A. Hunold, C. and Schlosberg, D. (2003) Green States and Social Movements Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway (e-book) click here: Dryzek, et al
*Dryzek, J. et al (2002) ‘Environmental Transformation of the State: the USA, Norway, Germany and the UK’ Political Studies vol 50(4) (e-journal)
*Hale, S (2010) ‘The new politics of climate change: why we are failing and how we will succeed’ Environmental Politics vol 19 (2): 255-75 (e)
Lantis, J. (2009) The Life and Death of International Treaties : Double-Edged Diplomacy and The Politics of Ratification In Comparative PerspectiveKZ1302.3 Lan. (Law and Europa
Lees,C. (2007) ‘Environmental Politics in Germany and the UK’, German Politics vol 16 (1): 164-83.
*Roberts, J. (2011) Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 6 (govt policymaking) (e-book)
Rosenbaum, W. (2007) ‘Climbing the Learning Curve: US and European Regulation Compared’ (book review essay) Global Environmental Politics, vol 7(1) (e)
Maclean, I (2008) ’Climate Change and UK Politics. From Brynle Williams to Sir Nicholas Stern’ Political Quarterly vol 79(2): 184-93 (e)
Markham, W. (2008) ‘German Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour in Transition’ (review essay) Environmental Politics vol 17(5) : 840-46 (e)
Weale, A (2009) ‘Governance, government and the pursuit of sustainability’ in Adger, N and Jordan, A (eds) (2009) Governing Sustainability , chap 3 (GE170 Gov)
Weale, A. (1992) The New Politics of Pollution HC240.9.E5 P55
Würzel,R. (2002) Environmental Policy-Making in Britain, Germany and the European Union GE190 G7 Wur
Vogler, J. (2008) ‘Environmental Issues’ in Baylis and Smith, The Globalization of World Politics, chapter 20
Seminar topics for week 3 Do sovereign states pose the main barrier to meaningful international environmental agreements? How important is domestic politics in explaining a states’ position on global environmental issues?
WEEK 4 (9 Feb) Economic Interests, Trade and Political Economy
Beder, S (2001) ‘Neoliberal Think Tanks and Freemarket Environmentalism’ Environmental Politics vol 10(2): 128-33
Bernhagen, P. (2008) ‘Business and International Environmental Agreements: Domestic Sources…..’ Global Environmental Politics vol 8(1): 78-109 (e)
Carter, N. (2007) The Politics of the Environment. Ideas, Activism, Policy, 2nd ed. Introduction, chapter 10
*Clapp, J (2011) ‘Environment and global political economy’ in Kütting, ed Global Environmental Politics, chapter 3, GE 170 Glo
*Clapp, J. and Dauvergne, P. (2011) Paths to a Green World Chapts 4-8 (economic growth, trade, investment, finance)
Crenson, M. (1972) The Un-politics of Air Pollution. A Study of Non-decision making in the Cities (HC110.A4 Cre)
*Dryzek, J. and Schlosberg, D. (2005) Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader, 2nd ed. GE170 Deb.
Economist (2011) Schumpeter column: ‘Why Firms Go Green’ 12 Nov available at:
*Etsy, D (2005) ‘Economic Integration and Environmental Protection’ in Axelrod, A. et al. (eds.) (2005) The Global Environment, chapt 8. K3585.4 Glo
Global Environmental Politics vol 11(2) Special issue on carbon finance
*Jacques, P. Dunlap, R and Freeman F(2008) ‘The organisation of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Scepticism’ Environmental Politics vol 17(4):349-85 (e)
Meckling, J (2011) ‘The Globalization of Carbon Trading: Transnational Business Coalitions in Climate Politics’Global Environmental Politics vol 11(2): 26-5)
Morega, E. (2009) Corporate Accountability in International Environmental Law(e-book)
*Newell, P and Paterson, M. (2010) Climate Capitalism. Global Warming and the Transformation of the Global Economy. (e-book)
Ozler, I and Obach, B (2009) ‘Capitalism, State Economic Policy and Ecological Footprint: An International Comparative Analysis’ Global Environmental Politics, vol 9(1): 79-108 (e)
*Paterson, M (2007) ‘Political Economies of Sustainability’ (Review essay) Environmental Politics vol 16(1): 147-53 (e)
Prakash, A. (2007) ‘Corporate Environmentalism: Problems and Prospects’(book review essay) Global Environmental Politics, vol 7(3)
Roberts, J. (2011) Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 8 (environmental economics)(e-book)
Skjaerseth, J and Wettestad, J. (2010) ‘Fixing the EU Emissions Trading System? Understanding the Post-2012 Changes’ Global Environmental Politics vol 10(4): 101-23
Vormedal, I (2008) ‘The Influence of Business and Industry NGOs in the Negotiation of the Kyoto Mechanisms: the Case of Carbon Capture and Storage in the CDM’ Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 8 (4): 36-65 (e)
Seminar topics for week 4 Can international trade and environmental protection be reconciled? How do economic interests influence global environmental policy?
WEEK 5 (16Feb): Environmental NGOsand civil society movements
*Alcock, F (2008) ‘Conflicts and Coalitions Within and Across the ENGO Community’ Global Environmental Politics, vol 8(4): 66-91 (e)
Boström, M. Hallstrom, K (2010) ‘NGO Power in Global Social and Environmental Standard-Setting’ Global Environmental Politics, Vol 10 ( 4) : 36-59
Carpenter, C. (2001) ‘Businesses, Green Groups and The Media…in the Climate Change Debate’ International Affairs 77 (2), 313–328.
*Carter, N. (2007) Politics of the Environment, chapter 6
Cashore, B. et al (2009) ‘The Emergence of Non-State Environmental Governance in European and North American Forest Sectors’ in Schreurs, et al Transatlantic Environmental and Energy Politics HC110.E5 Sch.
Connelly, J and Smith, G. (2003) Politics and the Environment. GE170 Con, chapt 3
Doherty, B and Doyle, T. (eds.) (2006) ‘Beyond Borders: Transnational Politics, Social Movements and Modern Environmentalisms’ Special Issue of Environmental Politics vol 15(5) (e)
Doherty, B (2006) ‘Friends of the Earth International : Negotiating a Transnational Identity’ Environmental Politics vol 15(5) : 860-80 (e)
Dryzek, J. and Schlosberg, D. (2005) Debating the Earth : the Environmental Politics Reader GE170 Deb. Section XII : The Green Movement
Duit, A (2011) ‘Patterns of Environmental Collective Action: Some Cross-National Findings’ Political Studies vol 59( 4): 900-20.(e)
*Ford, L. (2011) ‘Transnational actors in global environmental politics’ in Kütting, ed Global Environmental Politics, chapter 2, GE 170 Glo
Jordan, G. and Maloney, W. (1997) The Protest Business? GE195 Jor.
Keck, M and Sikkink, K (1998) Activists Beyond Borders. Advocacy Networks in International Politics JF 529 Kec chapters 1 and 4
Mason, M (2004) ‘Representing Transnational Environmental Interests: New Opportunities for NGO Access within the WTO?’ Environmental Politics, vol 13(4) (e)
*McCormick, J. (2005) ‘The Role of Environmental NGOs in International Regimes’ in Axelrod, R. et al (eds.) The Global Environment. , K3585.4 Glo
*Newell, P (2008) ‘Civil Society, Corporate Accountability and the Politics of Climate Change ‘ Global Environmental Politics vol 8(3) :122-153 (e)
Lowe, P and Wilkinson. K (2009) ‘How do environmental actors make governance systems more sustainable?’ in Adger and JordanGoverning Sustainability, chap 4 (GE170 Gov)
*McGregor, I. (2011) ‘Disenfranchisement of Countries and Civil Society at COP-15 in Copenhagen’ Global Environmental Politics vol 11(1): 1-7 (see also subsequent comment by D Fisher, pp8-11)
Poloni-Staudinger, L. (2008) ‘The Domestic Opportunity Structure and Supranational Activity’ European Union Politics vol 9(4): 531-58 (e)
Räthzel, N., Uzzell, D. (2011) Trade unions and climate change: The jobs versus environment dilemma’ Global Environmental Change vol 21(4): 1215-1223
Richards, J. and Heard, J (2005) ‘European environmental NGOs: Issues, resources and strategies in marine campaigns’ Environmental Politics vol 14(1): 23-41 (e)
Roberts, G. (2007) ‘Modes of Environmental Activism (review essay) Environmental Politics vol 16(4): 677-82.(e)
Rootes, C. (2006) ‘Facing South? British Environmental Movement Organisations and the Challenge of Globalisation’ Environmental Politics 15 (5) : 768-86. (e)
*Rootes, C. (ed.) (2003) Environmental Protest in Western Europe (e-book)
*Schroeder, H. and Lovell, H. (2012) The role of non-nation-state actors and side events in the international climate negotiations. Climate Policy vol 12(1): 23-37.
Seminar topics for week 5 Are environmental NGOS more than ‘mere spectators’ to international environmental agreements? (Students will present different NGOs’ profile) Whose interests are best represented by major international NGOs?
WEEK 6: (20-24 Feb) innovative teaching week: no seminar, but see list of SPS activities at:
WEEK 7( 1 March) Scientific experts, citizens and the media
scientific experts and citizens
Backstrand, K (2004) ‘Review Article: Science, Uncertainty and Participation in Global Environmental Governance’ Environmental Politics vol 13(3):650-56(e)
*Backstrand, K. (2004) ‘Scientisation vs Civil Expertise in Environmental Governance’ Environmental Politics, vol 13(4):695-714 [e]
Barr, S., Gilg, A., Shaw, G. (2011) ‘Citizens, consumers and sustainability: (Re)Framing environmental practice in an age of climate change’ Global Environmental Change vol 21(4): 1224-1233
Carolan, M. S. (2008) ‘The Multidimensionality of Environmental Problems: The GMO Controversy and the Limits of Scientific Materialism’ Environmental Values, vol 17(1): 67-82 (e)
*Dryzek, J. and Schlosberg, D. (2005) Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader, 2nd ed. GE170 Deb., section XIII
Fischer, F (2000) Citizens, Experts, and the Environment : The Politics of Local Knowledge GE 170 Fis
Haas, P. (1992) ‘Banning chlorofluorocarbons: epistemic community efforts to protect stratospheric ozone’ International Organization vol 46(1) Winter (introduces notion of ‘epistemic community’
*Jacques, P. Dunlap, R and Freeman. F. (2008) ‘The organisation of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Scepticism’Environmental Politics vol 17(4):349-85 (e)
Keller, A. (2009) Science in Environmental Policy : The Politics of Objective AdviceGE170 Kel. (standard loan)
McKay, D. (2009) Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (Cambridge: UIT Press) Available at:
Malnes, R (2008) ‘Climate Science and the Way We Ought to Think About Danger’ Environmental Politics vol 17(4): 660-672 (e)
Roberts, J. (2011) Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. chapter 4 (science and technology) (e-book)
Besley, J (2004) ‘Skepticism about media effects concerning the environment: Examining Lomborg’s hypotheses’ Society and Natural Resources vol 17(10): 861-80.
Edwards, D. and Henderson, C (2000) ‘ Can we trust the media on the environment?’ The Ecologist’ 9 June, Available at
*Gavin, N. and Marshall, T. (2011) Mediated climate change in Britain: Scepticism on the web and on television around CopenhagenGlobal Environmental Changevol 21(3):1035-44