MIT expert: How to toughen up environmental treaties

Feb 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: Companies are realizing that sustainability issues are here to stay

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Effective climate agreement not likely

Aug 13, 2014

According to a group of Norwegian researchers, the prospects for achieving an effective international climate treaty are poor. The measures that are politically feasible are ineffective and the measures that ...

US hosts talks to save oceans under 'siege'

Jun 15, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry launches an unprecedented global effort Monday to save the world's oceans under siege from overfishing, climate change and pollution.

Rethinking nuclear security efforts

May 21, 2014

What is the best way to prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons? The vast majority of nonproliferation efforts attempt to control access to sensitive technologies. However, a new study by Scott Kemp, ...

Recommended for you

Specialized species critical for reefs

6 hours ago

One of Australia's leading coral reef ecologists fears that reef biodiversity may not provide the level of insurance for ecosystem survival that we once thought.

Projections for climate change in Vermont

13 hours ago

Here's your northern Vermont forecast for the rest of this century: Annual precipitation will increase by between a third and half an inch per decade, while average temperatures will rise some five degrees ...

User comments : 1

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!