One of the questions asked by many policy-makers, activists and scholars after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was ‘Did we save the earth?’ Needless to say, the answers varied: some answered yes, some answered no and some answered maybe but it’s too soon to tell. The ideas explored in this book, however, canvass more than responses to that specific, albeit important question. The main purpose of this text is to focus attention on a more fundamental question, ‘how should we save the earth?’, and to examine the often competing answers offered in response. In many respects, in fact, it is no longer helpful to talk simply about the global politics of the environment. The agenda of protecting the environment is now inextricably linked with protecting people, with sustainable development, with the disproportionate impacts of a globalized economy, with the relationship between rich and poor, and with the demands of global justice. While the issues discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 take concerns about the environment as their starting point, the analysis there demonstrates that these are also concerns about the nature of economic activity, social exploitation and power and powerlessness.
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