Steinar AndresenFrom: The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2nd Edition)
Edited By: Lavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel
This chapter introduces some key concepts: what international regimes are; how to measure their effectiveness (the dependent variable); how this can be explained (independent variable); and the severe methodological challenges associated with answering these questions. Two main explanatory perspectives are introduced: the nature of the problem dealt with by the regime and its problem-solving ability. The chapter then surveys some key general findings that have emerged from the study of the effectiveness of international environmental regimes. Perhaps the most important finding is that although most international regimes that have been studied have had some effect on the problems they address, they have very rarely been able—if at all—to solve them fully. Another important observation is the sizeable variation among regimes in their problem-solving ability. The chapter presents empirical examples to illustrate how effectiveness can be measured and explained in practice. Most attention is given to the global climate regime, given its prominence on the international agenda. Viewed from a problem-solving perspective, however, the climate regime emerges as a low-effectiveness regime. This is briefly contrasted with the highly successful international ozone regime, as well as a regime that is very hard to measure in terms of effectiveness due to the deep and divisive conflicts over values, namely, the international whaling regime.