During the last years we have witnessed more and more fears that the
nation state and its ability to set demanding standards in fields like environmental
policy has diminished in the context of globalisation. There is,
on the other hand, the hopeful prognosis of neo-classical economists
that the same globalisation would be connected with deregulation and
fundamental reduction of the role of government. Neither the fear nor the
hope of a withering away of the nation state in times of globalisation are
supported by empirical research. States in concert have expanded and
co-ordinated their regulatory powers. And it is only the nation state, the
guarantor of diverse societal interests, that has the competence, the resources,
the power and legitimacy to regulate the actions of disparate
actors who might otherwise destroy shared environmental resources.
There is a remarkable potential at least in the advanced OECD countries
to promote change by the adoption of a pioneering policy, the stimulation
of international competition and the diffusion of best practice. This potential
of the highly advanced countries may be seen as a moral obligation
to assume a higher responsibility for the global environmental development.
The advanced nations cannot hide behind the fictive monster of
globalisation, seemingly legitimising any kind of inactivity. On the contrary,
it is their obligation to provide the world with better “demonstration
effects”, with a better model of production and consumption overcoming
the resource and environment intensive model of the past.
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