My review of ‘From Precaution to Profit’ — important lessons for climate politics

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 11.43.35 PMEDTMy extended book review of Brian Gareau’s From Precaution to Profit: Contemporary Challenges in the Montreal Protocol has just gone up at the Journal for World Systems Research.

It’s a great book for a couple reasons. First, because it explains what’s gone wrong with the Montreal Protocol, which so many people think of as the gold standard of global green treaties. And second, because it seeks to cash out the implications of the Protocol’s decline for global climate politics. As I argue in the review, he does especially well on the first count. And his efforts on the second are a great foundation for thinking through what is and isn’t possible for global treaty-making in a neoliberal era.

Here’s the review’s opening bit:

Since the disastrous 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, global climate governance has roiled in crisis. Michael Grubb, a long-time influential advocate for a binding global climate treaty, has warned that the world could enter its “darkest hour” (Grubb 2011). Other scholars now argue that small clusters of countries should negotiate treaties amongst themselves, and expand their clubs over time (Victor 2011). Some have even suggested a “G-2” solution decided by the United States and China alone. On the left, climate justice and “system change” activists are more likely to reject talk of any carbon-trading settlement altogether, despite the occasional radical defense of a global cap-and-trade scheme (Hahnel 2012). Still, a universal treaty remains on the global agenda. And the Montreal Protocol is the precedent most often cited as a uniquely effective example of global environmental governance, thanks to the steep reductions in ozone depleting substances it has achieved since entering into force in 1989.

Yet as Brian J. Gareau shows in From Precaution to Profit: Contemporary Challenges in the Montreal Protocol, this ostensible success story is misunderstood, with important implications for global climate politics.

Read the rest here (it’s the first review of the bunch).

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