Comparative environmental politics

Domestic institutions and actors

Authored by: Stacy D. VanDeveer , Paul F. Steinberg

Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415694209
eBook ISBN: 9780203799055
Adobe ISBN: 9781135090517


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Comparative environmental politics is the systematic study and comparison of environmental politics in different countries around the globe. The importance of a comparative approach to global environmental politics stems from the fact that the political processes that promote or impede trends like deforestation (see Chapter 38), water scarcity (Chapter 34), and climate change (Chapter 28) play out every day in places as diverse as the American state of Maine, the Indonesian island of Java, rapidly developing countries such as Chile and China, poor and unstable political systems like those of Haiti and Guinea, highly industrialized countries like Germany, and post-communist countries such as Belarus. To understand global environmental governance thus requires an appreciation for complexity – for the unique ways that actors and institutions interact in particular places and at specific historical junctures – and the use of theoretical tools to help us make sense of this complexity. With this overarching goal in mind, in this chapter we make two claims. First, comparative inquiry brings a great deal to the study and practice of global environmental politics and should occupy a more prominent position in the field (see Chapter 2). Second, to realize this potential, and to cohere into a cumulative literature, comparative environmental research should give substantially greater attention to theories of comparative politics.

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