The policy field of environmental protection is no more free from a fundamental dilemma than are the policy fields of security or welfare and economic relations. This is because each state is ultimately interested in the environmental protection of its own territory at the lowest economic cost. Thus, in international politics each state is tempted to pass the economic costs of environmental protection on to other states while benefiting from their efforts in protecting the environment. If, however, all followed this strategy of free-riding, not a single state could benefit economically; yet, they would collectively undermine the environmental conditions for human life at a regional or even global level. Thus, the environmental dilemma describes a social trap in which behaviour aimed at gains for individual states places both the community of states collectively and also each state individually in a worse situation than would have been the case with effective international cooperation and governance.
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- The Environment
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