MIT expert: How to toughen up environmental treaties

February 17, 2008

The Kyoto Protocol is one of more than 100 global environmental treaties negotiated over the past 40 years to address pollution, fisheries management, ocean dumping and other problems. But according to MIT Professor Lawrence Susskind, an expert in resolving complex environmental disputes, few of the agreements have done more than slow the pace of ecological damage, due to lack of ratification by key countries, insufficient enforcement and inadequate financial support.

To give the pacts bite—not just bark—Susskind is proposing a series of reforms that include economic penalties for countries that fail to meet the treaties’ targets. Susskind will outline a program to make global environmental treaties more effective and treaty-makers more accountable in a presentation Saturday, Feb. 16, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.

The reforms he has in mind include engaging civil societies, not just governments, in drafting and enforcing global environmental treaties; offering incentives for countries that ratify treaties and comply with their terms; and establishing more meaningful timetables and targets, along with economic penalties.

Penalties for non-compliance with environmental treaties should hit nations hard—in their pocketbooks, says Susskind.

"All the multilateral banks and lending institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UN agencies should require compliance with global environmental treaty provisions as a prerequisite for loans or participation in any of their activities," he will urge in his AAAS talk.

Susskind, the Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT, will draw in part from his own experience working with the G-77 on the Climate Change Convention. He has published 20 books including "Environmental Diplomacy" (Oxford), "Transboundary Environmental Negotiation" (Jossey-Bass), and the award-winning "Consensus Building Handbook" (Sage).

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Explore further: The 'end of the high seas', or we watch the seas die

Related Stories

The 'end of the high seas', or we watch the seas die

August 16, 2015

Even optimistic estimates for what might be achieved at December's Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris will not be enough to save the world's coral reefs, according to a Plenary session analysis presented at the Goldschmidt ...

Poachers' court reveals struggle to save S.African rhinos

August 10, 2015

A prosecutor in South Africa's Kruger National Park says rhino poaching cases appear in court like "shoplifting cases in the city", casting doubt on the country's anti-poaching strategy as it suffers another year of rhino ...

Antarctica may hold the key to regulating mining in space

August 10, 2015

Our current era may go down in history as the century of space exploration and off-Earth resource exploitation. But there are still considerable policy hurdles to overcome in terms of how we regulate such activities.

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

July 2, 2015

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping global warming.

Recommended for you

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mikiwud
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2008
For"should hit nations hard--in their pocketbooks",read TAXPAYER with the poorer paying the brunt!!FORGET IT!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.