I’ve been looking into the economics of climate change quite a bit recently and this somewhat tangential idea came to my attention. In a perfect world, this organization would already exist.
UPDATE: On Friday Edward Gresser, the author of the piece in Democracy Journal, called me up. On Monday it was featured in the “Eco-News Roundup” on Mother Jones’ Blue Marble blog.
With the Copenhagen climate conference just around the corner, China’s commitment to cap its carbon intensity and Obama’s lack of firm commitments dominated most of the environmental headlines from the UN summit this week. So most observers missed a promising idea floated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy: an environmental counterweight to the World Trade Organization.
“Let us create a single World Environment Organization in Copenhagen,” Sarkozy said during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. The French president used his turn at the podium to champion an idea he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had laid out for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the days leading up to the summit. A letter from the duo explained that after a climate agreement emerges from Copenhagen “a new institutional architecture will need to be set up to foster the development of international environmental law. Environmental governance must be overhauled.” The letter concludes: “We must make use of the momentum provided by Copenhagen to make further progress towards the creation of a World Environmental Organization.”
Speaking with the French quarterly Politique Internationale in 2007, Sarkozy went so far as to suggest that the proposed body “could in particular be a counterweight to the WTO, which has a tendency to neglect environmental problems.”
In the past, critics have responded to calls from politicians and academics for a World Environmental Organization by pointing out that we already have one, namely the UN Environment Programme. However, some experts, such as Edward Gresser of the Democratic Leadership Council, firmly dismiss this response. Gresser describes the UNEP as a “visibly second-tier structure” that lacks an “effective way to mediate or solve disputes over the agreements under its jurisdiction.”
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