Ecological modernization and the European Union

Gouldson, A. and Murphy, J. (1996) Ecological modernization and the European Union. Geoforum, 27(1), pp. 11-21. (doi:10.1016/0016-7185(96)00002-4)

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This paper begins with an examination of the role of state failure in constructing and preserving inefficient and ineffective systems of pollution control. It then assesses the characteristics, goals and mechanisms associated with integrated economic development and environmental protection as proposed by the conceptual framework of ecological modernization. In seeking to assess the applicability of the policy prescriptions of ecological modernization, recent European Union (E.U.) policy developments relating both to environment and economy are analysed. It is contended that while aspects of the emerging E.U. policy framework correspond to the theoretical construct of ecological modernization, the reluctance of other key actors in the E.U. policy process, most notably certain national governments, remains a key obstacle to its implementation. The paper submits that this reluctance is associated with concerns regarding the impact of environmental policy on industrial competitiveness. Through an examination of the interrelations between environmental policy and industrial competitiveness in the U.K., the paper suggests that to date the integration of environmental and economic concerns in U.K. industry remains weak. However, it also suggests that recent positive experience relating to the impact of environmental policy on industrial competitiveness is beginning to change the way that industry perceives policies that reflect the goals of ecological modernization. The paper concludes that these altered perceptions in industry have the potential to influence the policy stances adopted by national governments and hence to overcome some of the key barriers to ecological modernization at the E.U. level.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murphy, Professor Joseph
Authors: Gouldson, A., and Murphy, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Geoforum

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