Are negotiated international targets effective?

9 01 2009

From the BBC Environment reporter’s personal blog:

“…As economist George von Furstenberg has argued, governments have a habit of promising more than they can, or intend to, deliver. When the target date is further away than the next election, it’s not a bad electoral strategy, but there is surely a tendency for the public to assume that if a stringent target has been set, the problem is on the way to being solved.

So are targets worthwhile? Would all the time and energy not be better spent simply developing and implementing policies that deliver firm benefits?

Europe is failing to curb biodiversity loss, not because of anything to do with the target, but because it doesn’t yet have the right policies in place to stem all the things that drive biodiversity loss. It’s even disappearing inside protected areas.

Over the next year, governments will wrangle long into many nights about another set of targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This time around, it will be even more complex, given that curbs for developing countries are also on the horizon.

Then in 2010, they’ll meet to discuss why they have collectively failed to meet the 2010 biodiversity target.

Concerned observers will look, shake heads, lament the failure and demand a tougher target next time.

What is right? I don’t know. But I think it’s worth asking whether the whole notion of target-based environmental treaties is wide of the mark, and whether governments would be better off just taking measures that they know will work.”

Worth a think (?)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: