What role should governments play in protecting the environment and controlling the environmental impacts of industry? Do regulations benefit the environment, and how do they affect industrial innovation?
Since the modern era of environmental management began in the early 1970s, regulations have been used with increasing intensity and sophistication as the main instrument in steering the behaviour of economic agents in industrial production. The purpose of environmental regulation has been to coerce producers of goods and services into internalizing the environmental costs of production. These efforts have often faced opposition on practical and ideological grounds.
Since the 1980s there has been a movement toward liberalization, coupled with the continued failure of the market to protect the environment as a public good. As a result, private and public sector interests have been engaged in debate about the appropriate role of governments in protecting and improving the environment and controlling the environmental impact of industry.
The contributors to this book examine a number of political and industrial trends and responses to these challenges. A useful set of case studies appraise environmental policies and comprehensive statements on environmental protection and sustainable development by numerous countries in the North and the South. The book concludes that the complexities of environmental and economic relationships disallow universal solutions, and it illustrates the need for context-specific and nonlinear perspectives on the role of regulatory measures in environmental innovation.
Saeed Parto is a Research Fellow at UNU-MERIT in the Netherlands and Adjunct at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada.
Brent Herbert-Copley is the Director, Social and Economic Policy at the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, Canada.