Understanding environmental policy convergence the power of words, rules and money
Understanding Environmental Policy Convergence
Over recent decades national environmental policies have become increasingly alike. This book analyses the driving forces of this process of policy convergence, providing an in-depth empirical analysis of the international forces at work. It does so by investigating how four countries – France, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands – have shaped their domestic environmental policies in the context of international institutions and relationships, while taking into account various domestic factors and national conditions. Employing a qualitative approach, the authors seek to deepen understanding of the processes and mechanisms through which international forces such as legal harmonisation, institutionalised information flows and global trade dynamics affect domestic environmental policy change. Together with its companion volume Environmental Policy Convergence in Europe: The Impact of International Institutions and Trade (2008) this book provides a ‘showcase’ of mixed methodologies, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches in an innovative way. ¨ is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the Freie Universit¨at Berlin and managing director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU). is Professor of European Politics in the Depart¨ University, Germany, where she ment of Social Sciences at Osnabruck also holds a Jean Monnet Chair and directs the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on European Studies. In addition, she teaches at the College
of Europe in Bruges. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of the Environment, Institute for Management Research, at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Understanding Environmental Policy Convergence The Power of Words, Rules and Money edited by
¨ Helge Jorgens, Andrea Lenschow and Duncan Liefferink
University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107037823 C
Cambridge University Press 2014
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2014 Printed in the United Kingdom by CPI Group Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Understanding environmental policy convergence : the power of words, rules ¨ and money / [edited by] Helge Jorgens,
Andrea Lenschow, Duncan Liefferink. pages cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-107-03782-3 (hardback) 1. Environmental policy – International cooperation – Case studies. 2. Environmental management – International cooperation – Case studies. 3. Global environmental change – International cooperation – Case studies. ¨ I. Jorgens, Helge, 1967– II. Lenschow, Andrea. III. Liefferink, Duncan. GE170.U535 2013 363.7′ 0561 – dc23 2013022105 ISBN 978-1-107-03782-3 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
List of figures List of tables List of contributors Preface List of abbreviations
page vii viii x xii xiv
1 Introduction: theoretical framework and research design , ¨ 2 Is there convergence of national environmental policies? An analysis of policy outputs in 24 OECD countries , 3 Regulation of industrial discharges into surface water , 4 Taming the ‘tiger in the tank’: explaining the convergence of limit values for lead in petrol -
Environmental policies: early adoptions, 1970–2000 page 51 Environmental policies: linear adoptions, 1970–2000 52 Environmental policies: late adoptions, 1970–2000 53 Limit values for lead 66 Limit values for chromium 66 Limit values for copper 67 Limit values for zinc 67 Limit values for biological oxygen demand 68 Limit values in France, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands, 1970–2000 105 Convergence of limit values across twenty-four countries, 1970–2000 106 Net exports of petrol from France, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands, 1970–2000 117 Evolution of limit values for lead in petrol in Hungary, 1969–2000 120 Evolution of limit values for lead in petrol in the Netherlands, 1978–2000 124 Evolution of limit values for lead in petrol in Mexico, 1986–2000 128 Evolution of limit values for lead in petrol in France, 1967–2000 131 National noise emission standards from lorries, 1970–2000 143 Motorway noise emissions standards since 1970 144 Comparison of the phasing of policy on contaminated sites 201 The incorporation of the sustainability principle into domestic environmental laws, 1985–2000 241
1.1 Mechanisms of policy convergence page 18 1.2 Case study countries 20 1.3 Selection of policy items according to trade-related expectations 26 1.4 Characteristics of policy items 27 2.1 Environmental policies: adoption rates (%) for forty policies, 1970–2000 48 2.2 Policy adoptions over time by country, 1970–2000 50 2.3 Variation coefficients for twenty-one setting items, 1970–2000 54 2.4 Changes in regulatory mean for twenty-one settings, 1970–2000 57 2.5 Beta-convergence, twenty-one settings, 1970–2000 58 2.6 Gamma-convergence, twenty-one settings, 1970–2000 60 3.1 Selected international efforts indirectly affecting standard setting for the discharge of chromium, copper, lead, zinc and BOD into surface water 70 3.2 Phases and mechanisms of policy convergence in France 79 3.3 Phases and mechanisms of policy convergence in the Netherlands 85 3.4 Phases and mechanisms of policy convergence in Hungary 91 3.5 Phases and mechanisms of policy convergence in Mexico 97 4.1 Selected international efforts aiming at the reduction of lead in petrol 113 4.2 Summary of relevant mechanisms in the Hungarian case 123 4.3 Summary of relevant mechanisms in the Dutch case 127 4.4 Summary of relevant mechanisms in the Mexican case 130 4.5 Summary of relevant mechanisms in the French case 134 5.1 National noise emission standards for lorries in dB(A) in twenty-four countries 143 5.2 Legally binding international regulations and international policy recommendations 151 viii
List of tables
5.3 The main impacts and causal mechanisms affecting policy change in Hungary 5.4 The main impacts and causal mechanisms affecting policy change in France 5.5 The main impacts and causal mechanisms affecting policy change in the Netherlands 5.6 The main impacts and causal mechanisms affecting policy change in Mexico 6.1 Review of the first governmental plan or legislation specifically on contaminated sites up to 2000 in twenty-four countries 6.2 Core dimensions in designing policy to clean up contaminated sites 6.3 Overview of main plans and legislation on contaminated sites in the Netherlands 6.4 Driving forces for policy developments in the Netherlands 6.5 Overview of legislation and policy plans on contaminated sites in France 6.6 Driving forces for policy developments in France 6.7 Overview of legislation and policy plans on contaminated sites in Hungary 6.8 Driving forces for policy developments in Hungary 6.9 Overview of the regulation on contaminated sites in Mexico 6.10 Driving forces for policy developments in Mexico 7.1 The precautionary principle in national and EU environmental laws 7.2 The most important legally binding obligations and policy recommendations on the precautionary principle 7.3 The main mechanisms causing convergence/divergence in the case study countries 8.1 Summary of relevant mechanisms 9.1 Submechanisms of transnational communication (excerpted from Table 1.1)
- is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Potsdam. is a Research Fellow at the Chair of Comparative Public Policy and Administration, University of Konstanz. . is Chair of International Relations and Conflict Management, University of Konstanz. ¨ is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the Freie Universit¨at Berlin and managing director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU). . is Chair of Comparative Public Policy and Administration, University of Konstanz. . is Professor of European Politics in ¨ University, Germany, the Department of Social Sciences at Osnabruck where she also holds a Jean Monnet Chair and directs the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on European Studies. In addition, she teaches at the College of Europe in Bruges. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of the Environment, Institute for Management Research, at Radboud University Nijmegen. is a Research Fellow on the ConsEnSus Project, Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin. is a Senior Lecturer in Regulation in the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. is a Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University.
List of contributors
is a Research Fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of the Environment, Radboud University Nijmegen.
Over the past decades, national environmental policies have become increasingly alike. This book analyses the causal mechanisms that drive this process of policy convergence. The book is the result of a collaborative European research project conducted by Christoph Knill (coordinator, University of Konstanz), Bas Arts (University of Wageningen), ¨ Katharina Holzinger (University of Konstanz), Helge Jorgens (Free Uni¨ versity Berlin), Andrea Lenschow (University of Osnabruck) and Duncan Liefferink (University of Nijmegen). Research for this project was funded under the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Commission within the RTD programme ‘Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base’, contract no. HPSE-CT-2002– 00103. This financial support allowed us to build an excellent team of senior and junior researchers who either joined us for the entire research project or stayed only for part of the project: Johan Albrecht, Per-Olof Busch, Stephan Heichel, Jelmer Kamstra, Tobias Meier, Jeroen Ooijevaar, Jessica Pape, Dieter Pesendorfer, Maren Riepe, Thomas Sommerer, Jale Tosun, Sietske Veenman and Natascha Warta. This book is the second of two volumes presenting the findings of the ENVIPOLCON project. The first book presenting a quantitative analysis of environmental policy convergence in twenty-four countries was published in 2008 with Cambridge University Press.1 It provided answers to the questions of how much, in which direction and for what reasons environmental policies in the developed world had converged over the past thirty years. In this second volume we build on, but also move beyond, the initial quantitative analysis. Through a set of in-depth qualitative case studies, we shed light on the precise mechanisms through which countries adapt their domestic policies to those already in place in other countries. In particular, the book sheds light on the complex ways in which words (transnational communication), rules (international 1
K. Holzinger, C. Knill and B. Arts (eds.) 2008. Environmental Policy Convergence in Europe: The Impact of International Institutions and Trade. Cambridge University Press.
harmonisation) and money (economic regulatory competition) interact in the adoption and development of domestic environmental policies. It does so by way of a highly systematic set of case studies, covering the convergence of seven environmental policy issues in four countries: France, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands. We thank the European Commission for its financial support. We also thank our universities and all other organisations that supported the project directly or indirectly. We are indebted to all members of the project team who made this research project a success. It was a great pleasure working with you! Two anonymous reviewers at Cambridge University Press provided thorough and very helpful criticism of an earlier version of this book. Finally, we would like to thank Lena Keller for her excellent assistance in editing the final book manuscript, Pat Harper for her skilled and constructive copy-editing, as well as John Haslam, Carrie Parkinson and Mary O’Hara at Cambridge University Press for guiding us through the publication process.
ADEME AFSSE APEC BAT BEVER BOD BREF BRGM BSB CAAG CALM Network CARACAS CBD CCMS CEC CEE CFDD CGPC CITES CIW CLARINET CMEA CNA CNB CO xiv
Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maˆıtrise de l’Energie Agence Franc¸aise de S´ecurit´e Sanitaire Environnementale Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation best available technology Beleidsvernieuwing Bodemsanering biological oxygen demand best available technique reference document Bureau de Recherches G´eologiques et Mini`eres Bodem Sanering Bedrijventerreinen Clean Air Action Group EU-funded network established to develop a Community Noise Research Strategy Plan Concerted Action on Risk Assessment for Contaminated Sites in Europe Convention on Biological Diversity Committee on the Challenges to Modern Society Commission for Environmental Cooperation Central and Eastern Europe Commission Franc¸aise du D´eveloppement Durable Conseil G´en´eral des Ponts et Chauss´ees Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Commissie Integraal Waterbeheer Contaminated Land Rehabilitation Network for Environmental Technologies Council for Mutual Economic Assistance National Water Commission (Mexico) National Noise Council carbon monoxide
List of abbreviations
Comecon CPP CRECEP Cx Hy DC DDT DEG DG DG TREN DIREN DRA DRIRE EBRD EC ECJ ECMT EEC EIA EMA EMCC END EU FIV FJOKK FNE GATT GDP GMO GNP HAN IAWPR ICPE I-INCE IMTA INE
see CMEA Comit´e de la Pr´evention et de la Pr´ecaution ˆ Centre de Recherche, d’Expertise et de Controle des Eaux de Paris hydrocarbons DaimlerChrysler de M´exico SA de CV dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft Directorate-General Directorate-General for Transport and Energy Direction R´egionale de l’Environnement Detailed Risk Assessment Direction R´egionale de l’Industrie, de la Recherche et de l’Environnement European Bank for Reconstruction and Development European Community/European Commission European Court of Justice European Conference of Ministers of Transport European Economic Community environmental impact assessment Environmental Management Act European Monitoring Centre on Change Environmental Noise Directive European Union Fixed Impact Value Fodor Jozsef National Centre of Public Health France Nature Environnement General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade gross domestic product genetically modified organism gross national product Heidelberg Appeal Netherland Foundation International Association of Water Pollution Research Installations Class´ees pour la Protection de l’Environnement International Institute of Noise Control Engineering Mexican Institute of Water Technology National Institute of Ecology
Institute National de l’Environnement Industriel et des Risques French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control International Organization for Standardization Institute for Transport Services (Hungary) ¨ ¨ Kornyezetv´ edelmi e´ s V´ızugyi Miniszt´erium (Ministry of Rural Development) Ley de Bioseguridad y Organismos Gen´eticamente Modificados Landelijk Bestuurlijk Overleg Water General Law on Ecological Equilibrium and Protection of the Environment ´ Minist`ere de l’Ecologie du D´eveloppement Durable Mouvement des Entreprises de France multinational company Ministry of Environment and Water North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation North American Free Trade Agreement North Atlantic Treaty Organization Nature Conservation Act National Environmental Policy Plan non-governmental organisation Dutch Environmental Policy Plan 4 Official Mexican Standard nitrogen oxides National Remediation Programme (Hungary) Technical Standard (Mexico) National Water Authority (Hungary) Fourth Memorandum on Water Management Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development National Inspectorate for Environment, Nature and Water polychlorinated biphenyl ´ Petroleos Mexicanos precautionary principle polluter pays principle Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection
List of abbreviations
RBLM RIVM RIZA SD SEDUE SEMARNAP SEMARNAT S´etra SME SPA SRA SWPA TBT TCB TI TNO UNAM UNCED UNCSD UNDP UNECE UNEP UVW VEMW VITUKI VNG VNO-NCW VoMil VRO VROM WCED WFD WHO
Risk Based Land Management Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment sustainable development Secretariat of Ecology and Urban Development Secretariat of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources ´ Service d’Etudes Techniques des Routes et Autoroutes small and medium enterprises Act on Soil Protection Simplified Risk Assessment Surface Water Pollution Control Act Technical Barriers to Trade Dutch Soil Protection Committee Tecnolog´ıa Intercontinental SA de CV Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research ´ Universidad Nacional Autonoma de M´exico UN Conference on Environment and Development UN Commission on Sustainable Development UN Development Programme United Nations Economic Commission for Europe United Nations Environment Programme Association of Regional Water Authorities Vereniging voor Energie, Milieu en Water Water Resources Research Centre Association of Netherlands Municipalities Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers Volksgezondheid en Milieuhygi¨ene Ministry for Housing and Physical Planning Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer World Commission on Environment and Development Water Framework Directive World Health Organization
WP WTO WWF ZBC
List of abbreviations
Working Party World Trade Organization World Wide Fund for Nature zones de bruit critique
Introduction: theoretical framework and research design Duncan Liefferink, Helge J¨orgens and Andrea Lenschow
Are environmental policies in European countries growing more and more similar? In this era of globalisation it seems likely, but if so, at what level do national environmental policies converge? Are countries generally reaching out to the most stringent and most effective models available, or does increased international competition rather force them to adopt less demanding levels of regulation? And perhaps even more important: how do processes of environmental policy convergence come about? Some argue that cross-national policy convergence is mainly fuelled by the international trade interests of individual states. Others emphasise formal policy coordination by, for instance, European Union law or international environmental treaties as the predominant convergence mechanism. Yet others argue that the impact of legal harmonisation is overestimated and that much of the mutual adjustment of domestic policies, institutions, and instruments can be explained by increasing information flows and cross-national policy learning. Finally, one always has to keep in mind the possibility that there are no international mechanisms at work at all. In this case policy convergence would simply be a matter of similar, but independent responses to similar problems occurring in different countries. As will be set out in considerable detail in Section 1.2, existing scholarly literature provides partial, tentative, sometimes even fairly powerful clues to this major puzzle. It has been shown that convergence does take place at a surprisingly high pace and in fact also at surprisingly high levels of regulation. Generally speaking, environmental policies do not systematically fall victim to international economic competition as ‘race to the bottom’ theories would predict. Instead, there is increasing evidence that legal harmonisation as well as various types of transnational communication lead countries to mutually adjust their policy goals, policy instruments and even their levels of ambition. Moreover, this convergence is not restricted to groups of countries with similar political systems or 1
Duncan Liefferink, Helge J¨orgens and Andrea Lenschow
similar policy styles, or which stand at similar stages of economic development. It can be observed on a European and in many instances even global scale. Less is known, however, about the precise ways in which the prevailing mechanisms work and interact in practice. This book seeks to find answers to these questions by way of a highly systematic set of cases studies, covering seven environmental policy issues in four countries: France, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands. This introductory chapter sets out the analytical framework applied in the case studies. It specifies the research questions and the central theoretical concepts, explains the selection of the four countries and the seven cases, and develops expectations as to which mechanisms of convergence may apply under which circumstances. In Section 1.2 we fix the point of departure for the present study by briefly reviewing the scholarly state-of-the-art in the field of environmental policy convergence. Section 1.3 then defines and discusses the basic terminology used in the book, notably the concept of policy convergence and the main mechanisms behind it. In Section 1.4 we describe how our empirical case studies build upon the findings of a large-scale quantitative study of environmental policy convergence carried out earlier.1 The careful and systematic selection of both policy issues and countries makes it possible to investigate in an unusually thorough and comprehensive fashion how the various mechanisms of policy convergence work in practice, how they reinforce or hinder each other, and how effective they are in making domestic policies more similar over time. Finally in this chapter, Section 1.5 sketches the outline of the rest of the book.
Environmental policy convergence: the state of the art and further
Over the last decades, the study of processes of cross-national policy convergence has become a major concern for political scientists. In a globalising world, increased economic, political and cultural interdependence is assumed to make national policies grow more alike over time (Drezner 2001). This convergence of policies and programmes has been observed in virtually all areas of public policy making (for a comprehensive overview see Heichel, Pape and Sommerer 2005; see also the ¨ contributions in Holzinger, Jorgens and Knill 2007). In this section we 1
Both the quantitative study and this book form part of the research project ‘Environmental governance in Europe: the impact of international institutions and trade on policy convergence’ (ENVIPOLCON). For further details, see Section 1.4 and Chapter 2.
Introduction: theoretical framework and research design
will give an overview of the literature on policy convergence in the field of environmental policy. Since the late 1960s virtually all countries in the world have created government institutions for the protection of the environment such as environment ministries, national environmental agencies or environmen¨ tal advisory councils (Jorgens 1996; Meyer et al. 1997). Basic legislation in the areas of air pollution control, nature and water protection as well as waste management has equally been adopted in a large number of coun¨ tries (Busch and Jorgens 2005a). At the instrumental level, the more recent shift in the prevailing policy pattern from a sectorally fragmented and largely legally based regulatory approach to an integrated environmental policy characterised by the inclusion of softer and/or more flexible instruments such as negotiated agreements, eco-labels, emissions trading schemes, or ecological tax reforms is also proceeding on a global scale ¨ (De Clercq 2002; Jorgens 2003; De Bruijn and Norberg-Bohm 2005; Daley 2007). Even concrete environmental protection standards such as emission standards have strongly converged over time (Holzinger, Knill and Arts 2008). Overall, a global convergence of governance patterns in environmental policy has been observed (J¨anicke and Weidner 1997; ¨ Meyer et al. 1997; Weidner and J¨anicke 2002; Busch and Jorgens 2005b; Holzinger, Knill and Sommerer 2008; Knill, Holzinger and Arts 2008). Both comparative policy analysis and the study of international relations have contributed significantly to this growing literature on environmental policy convergence. Although the two subdisciplines differ substantially in their theoretical expectations as well as in their methodological approach, their empirical findings have become increasingly similar over time, supporting the identification of a strong and stable convergence trend over the past four decades in the field of environmental policy. 1.2.1
Comparative policy analysis
Scholars in the field of comparative policy analysis originally focused on the national determinants of policy choice and policy change. Consequently, their theoretical point of departure was a general assumption of cross-national diversity of environmental policies resulting from different national institutional frameworks, actor constellations, regulatory styles and problem pressures (Lundqvist 1974; Kitschelt 1983; Weale 1992; van Waarden 1995). However, in their empirical analyses, they quickly detected that in spite of widely differing national styles of regulation, advanced industrial states had been surprisingly similar in deciding which risks required positive state action (agenda setting) and in their
Duncan Liefferink, Helge J¨orgens and Andrea Lenschow
successes or failures actually to reduce environmental pollution (policy impacts) (Badaracco 1985; Brickman, Jasanoff and Ilgen 1985; Vogel 1986). While these studies did not directly pose the question of convergence or divergence of national environmental policies, their common finding of ‘different styles, similar content’ (Knoepfel et al. 1987) was a first and important step in that direction. In a summary of the findings of this first set of comparative environmental policy analyses Knoepfel et al. (1987: 183) concluded that ‘the hypothesis . . . concerning the long-term convergence of policy outputs in environmental regulation must be tested and questioned in a more comprehensive analysis’. Building on these early findings, a second wave of studies began to compare systematically the development of domestic capacities for environmental policy making throughout the group of Western industrialised countries. These studies found not only that national environmental policies were determined only in part by domestic factors, but also that processes of imitation and learning among geographically, culturally or economically related countries had become important and independent sources of any country’s capacity to address environmental problems ¨ (J¨anicke 1996; Jorgens 1996). As a consequence, Western industrialised states responded in a surprisingly homogeneous way to the environmental challenge that had been placed on domestic and international policy agendas in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A systematic in-depth comparison by J¨anicke and Weidner of case studies of thirty industrialised and developing countries confirmed these findings and extended them beyond the narrow group of industrialised countries. It revealed a global convergence of governance patterns in environmental policy that covered not only domestic institutions but also sectoral environmental laws, specific instruments, strategies, actor constellations and even the strengthening of societal capacities (J¨anicke and Weidner 1997; Weidner and J¨anicke 2002). However, these findings did not go undisputed. In a study on the development of environmental policies in Western Europe, Hanf and Jansen (1998) confirmed the previous findings that countries tended to respond to environmental phenomena ‘by legislation that was relatively similar in formal terms’, but added that beneath the level of formal laws and institutions, domestic environmental policies remained ‘quite different in terms of operational goals and instruments’ (Jansen, Osland and Hanf 1998: 281). Like much of the Europeanisation literature, their study found domestic actor constellations and institutional structures to be important intervening factors which explain differences between national environmental policies and institutions (see also Andersen and ¨ Liefferink 1997; Liefferink and Andersen 1998; Borzel 2002; Liefferink
Introduction: theoretical framework and research design
and Jordan 2005). While most Europeanisation studies agreed that the powerful economic as well as political homogenising pressures within the EU did not necessarily lead to uniform action at the level of member states, but often produced a quite heterogeneous patchwork of institutions, instruments and policy styles (see, for example, H´eritier and Knill 2001), they disagreed on the concrete level of policy making where convergence and/or divergence could be expected as well as on the underlying causal mechanisms. For example, while Jansen, Osland and Hanf (1998) had expected diversity to be strongest with regard to operational goals and targets, Jordan and Liefferink found that it was exactly at this level of individual environmental standards and concrete instruments that convergence was most pronounced (Jordan and Liefferink 2004; Liefferink and Jordan 2005). Regarding the mechanisms of environmental policy change, Knill and Lenschow (2005a, 2005b), in a study of the effects of EU policies on the organisational structure and behavioural patterns of national administrations, found that ‘soft’ European steering modes based on competition or communication had led to greater administrative convergence than ‘hard’ steering modes based on legal obligation. Focusing on policies and instruments rather than administrative structures, Jordan and colleagues found more convergence in areas where the EU has the authority to adopt binding supranational regulations than in areas where it has little or no legislative competence (Jordan, Wurzel and Zito 2003; Jordan and Liefferink 2004). In parallel to these studies on Europeanisation and policy convergence, a second strand of comparative studies began to investigate systematically processes of transfer, diffusion and convergence of environmental policies beyond the relatively small group of EU member states. Rather than relying on small to medium-sized samples of in-depth case studies – as had been the case with the earlier generations of European and international comparisons – these studies began to trace the global patterns of environmental policy change and convergence across large numbers of countries, sometimes even on a worldwide scale (Tews, Busch and ¨ ¨ ¨ Jorgens 2003; Jorgens 2004; Busch and Jorgens 2005a, 2007a; Tews and J¨anicke 2005). Looking at a wide range of policy items which included environmental institutions, different types of environmental laws (from constitutional articles to issue-specific ordinances), environmental policy instruments (regulatory, informational, voluntary or market-based) and general principles and programmes, these studies provided strong evidence of a global convergence in environmental policy making. Furthermore, they showed that a wide range of causal mechanisms, including economic coercion, legal harmonisation, and voluntary imitation and learning, all contributed to this convergence and that the interaction of
Duncan Liefferink, Helge J¨orgens and Andrea Lenschow
different mechanisms – for example voluntary diffusion processes paving the way for subsequent legal harmonisation – could significantly broaden ¨ the scope and increase the speed of convergence (Jorgens 2004; Busch ¨ and Jorgens 2005c, 2007b). In sum, comparative studies have shown that national environmental policies are actually becoming more similar over time, but that domestic idiosyncrasies constitute an important intervening factor which often limits the impact of transnational and international convergence mechanisms. 1.2.2
While scholars in the field of comparative policy analysis focused predominantly on the national determinants of policy change and consequently started out from a theoretical assumption of persisting cross-national differences, international relations scholars focused on international dynamics. Consequently, they were from the outset more open to theoretically derived expectations of cross-national environmental policy convergence. The most widely received of these hypotheses in the environmental field was the prediction of a global race to the bottom regarding standards for environmental, consumer or worker protection (Scharpf 1997a). Although the direction of policy change that this hypothesis implied has repeatedly been challenged on empirical grounds with numerous studies showing that rather than racing to the bottom, domestic environmental policies and standards tend to move steadily towards higher levels of environmental protection (Vogel 1995, 1997; Botcheva and Martin 2001; Bernauer and Caduff 2004; Holzinger 2007; DeSombre 2008), the basic prediction of a cross-national convergence of environmental standards was supported by all of these studies. The second big strand of research on environmental policy convergence in international relations, but also in international sociology, is based on a constructivist epistemology. Analysing the global proliferation of characteristic elements of modern environmentalism – such as environmental ministries, national parks, environmental NGOs or environmental impact assessments – John Meyer and his colleagues found a worldwide convergence of environmental policies and institutions which they interpreted as the domestic implementation of an emerging global norm or, in other words, a norm-based ‘world environmental regime’ (Meyer et al. 1997; see also Frank, Hironaka and Schofer 2000; Hironaka 2002). Most studies on international environmental politics, however, do not deal explicitly with the convergence of national environmental policies. International agreements rather than domestic policies are their
Introduction: theoretical framework and research design
dependent variable (Harrison 2002). The most important strand of this literature, empirical research on international environmental regimes, is predominantly concerned with the development and implementation of common solutions to transboundary environmental problems. Convergence, in this literature, is found mainly with regard to the value states place on environmental protection and their subsequent willingness and ability to reach and comply with multilateral agreements. Although regime studies implicitly assume that domestic policies will converge as multilateral agreements are being implemented, this assumption does not constitute a core concern of the international relations literature and is hardly ever tested empirically. The large body of literature on the effectiveness of international environmental regimes illustrates this. Focusing on issues such as oil pollution at sea (Mitchell 1994a, 1994b), long-range transboundary air pollution (Levy 1993), depletion of the ozone layer (Litfin 1994), the transboundary movement of waste (O’Neill 2000) or ocean dumping of radioactive waste (Ringius 2001), these studies are predominantly interested in the environmental effectiveness of multilateral regimes. Although they often compare systematically how domestic policies change in response to international accords (Miles et al. 2002), their focus is not on cross-national policy clustering or convergence, but rather on the specific design features of international institutions that promote or hinder domestic compliance (Haas, Keohane and Levy 1993). Within this general regime literature, one particular research strand pays greater attention to the diffusion and convergence of domestic environmental policies. Applying the concept of ‘epistemic communities’, Haas (1992) and his colleagues stress the impact of transnationally disseminated scientific knowledge. They argue that ideas and causal beliefs which have emerged and were promoted through knowledge-based networks of experts can shape state interests by ‘framing the issues for collective debate, proposing specific policies, and identifying salient points for negotiation’. According to Haas, this ‘diffusion of new ideas and information can lead to new patterns of behaviour’ (Haas 1992: 2–3). Again, the dependent variable is international cooperation rather than domestic policy change and convergence. However, as the epistemic community literature explicitly points out, domestic policies may converge as ‘the innovations of epistemic communities are diffused nationally, transnationally, and internationally to become the basis of new or changed international practices and institutions and the emerging attributes of a new world order’ (Adler and Haas 1992: 373). Other scholars have taken up this point, arguing that epistemic communities and other transnational actor networks may in fact constitute an important mechanism for the diffusion and convergence of domestic policies (Finnemore 2003: