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This chapter begins by elaborating on the concept of discourse, then turns to how the main discourses of environmental concern can be mapped through reference to their reactions against an earlier industrialism. It examines the content, history, and impact of the discourses of environmental problem-solving, limits and survival, sustainability, and green radicalism, as well as old and new backlashes against environmentalism. The chapter then considers the importance of discourses in ordering international environmental affairs compared with other influences. Ultimately, the influence of discourses can be discerned only by writing histories of particular cases. But in the end there is one reason to expect discourses to be more consequential in the international system than in the internal affairs of states. Formal institutions are relatively weak in the international system, meaning coordination (and disruption) across actors has to be supplied by informal mechanisms such as discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of International Environmental Law
EditorsLavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780192589026
ISBN (Print)9780198849155
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameThe Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law


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