Global Environmental Protection


To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
Sweden continues to present a very strong international record in terms of supporting international environmental protection regimes, including the Paris climate change conference in 2015. Indeed, the country has a record of going beyond the requirements of international accords, from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement, as a means of setting an example to other countries. Climate change and global warming can only be addressed through multilateral efforts and Sweden has played an important role toward such arrangements. Sweden is also a very active player on the EU’s environmental policy agenda.
Zannakis, M. (2010), Climate Policy as a Window of Opportunity: Sweden and Global Climate Change (Gothenburg: Department of Political Science, university of Gothenburg).
When it comes to international efforts, Denmark is actively promoting environmental protection through the European Union, relevant U.N. bodies and global conferences, including in particular the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The European Union has become an important international actor in this area with its focus shifting toward global warming, including the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and achievement of a higher energy efficiency.

There is broad understanding in Denmark that global environmental protection is an international issue, but also a belief that being a front-runner is important to induce global action. It is a policy area in which civil society is very actively putting pressure on politicians. In domestic policy discussions, there is increasing debate about whether current policies are sufficiently ambitious, with particular focus on alternative energy sources and reductions in CO2 emissions.

The P4G, which was initiated by the prime minster, held a summit in Copenhagen in October 2018, with more than 800 participants developing public-private partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In October 2019, the C40 World Mayors Summit took place in Copenhagen. The organization brings together representatives from 90 cities around the world that are leading the way on achieving the Paris Agreement goals at the local level. The group is also working to reduce air pollution in cities.

The new Social Democratic government, which came to power in June 2019, has set a very ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 70% by 2030. This goal is now supported by most political parties in the parliament.
Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012, EU Environmental Policy, I/Miljoepolitik (accessed 27 April 2013).

“Klimaindsatsen i Danmark,” (accessed 19 October 2014).

Web site of Ministry of the Environment: (Accessed 19 October 2014).

“Danmark udpeget som klimaskurk på topmøde i Paris,” (Accessed 23 October 2016).

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Opening Address to the Folketing on 3 October 2017” (accessed 20 October 2017).

Statsministerens tale ved Folketingets åbning, 2. oktober 2018, (Accessed 9 October 2018).

P4G Copenhagen Summit 2018: Accelerating partnerships, (Accessed 7 November 2018).

C40 World Mayors Summit, The Future We Want, Copenhagen 9th-12th October 2019, (Accessed 17 October 2019)
All French governments in recent decades have been committed to advancing environmental policies at the global level. Under former President Sarkozy, France was among the leading group of countries trying to secure an agreement on climate change mitigation at the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In this tradition, French diplomats were particularly active in preparation for the U.N. Climate Change Conference chaired by France in December 2015. The global agreement reached at this conference is a success for French diplomacy. This commitment is supported by the entire political class and Macron has fully endorsed the policy choices made by Hollande. For instance, Macron has tried to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to remain committed to the pledge of the previous U.S. administration, and announced at the United Nations in September 2018 that France would not sign any international agreements with countries that are not part of the COP 21 agreement. It remains to be seen whether this commitment will prove to be anything more than a symbolic gesture. Generally, openness to drastic internationally approved protective policies reaches a limit when French interests are at stake. For instance, any policy threatening to reduce the nuclear energy industry’s growth capacity has been frowned upon by France, despite the unresolved issue of nuclear waste dumps.
International environmental-protection policy is important to the current government. Luxembourg has planned to invest a total of €120 million in international climate aid between 2014 and 2020. To date, €100 million has already been pledged with a further €12 million to be donated to NGOs. In addition, Luxembourg also plays a significant role in green finance. The Forestry and Climate Change Fund, which was launched in 2017 by Luxembourg’s government in cooperation with several banks and an insurance company aims to help farmers manage deforested rainforests and secondary forests sustainably.

The latest climate goal for the Grand Duchy is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% as compared to 2005 by 2030. According to current estimates, Luxembourg could reach the Kyoto Protocol climate goals by 2020. However, the goal of a 40% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions between 2020 and 2030 presents a considerable challenge.

In autumn 2019, it was stated that Luxembourg would contribute around €200 million to the international climate fund by 2024. Therefore, the country is doubling its efforts, from a financial perspective. In addition, Luxembourg has launched a Sustainable Finance Initiative to develop a coherent sustainable finance strategy. In 2020, Luxembourg was slated to launch its first sustainability bond, worth € 1 billion. Its proceeds were to be earmarked for climate, environment and social issues.

Since 2013, the common European goal is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20%. Emission allowances may only be traded in Europe, not internationally. According to Luxembourg’s Secretary of State, the country’s sectors that cannot make use of the European certificate trade are “on track,” even though the country’s population has grown considerably during this period. Moreover, fuel consumption has been on the decline in recent years.

The majority of greenhouse-gas emissions (in non-certified sectors) are caused by the mobility sector (64.2% in 2016), followed by buildings (19.1% in 2016) and agriculture (9.1% in 2016). Fuel tourists, people who travel to Luxembourg and back simply to refuel their cars, contribute only a small part of this total.

As with national planning more generally, the government is seeking to spur citizen participation in the area of climate-change policy. A third climate plan for Luxembourg is to be drafted under the title “Generating Climate: Climate Change Together for the Future.” In this process, citizens are able to participate in working groups.
“Politique pour la protection du climat: bilan et enjeux futurs – Solidarité internationale – coopération avec les communes – mesures ciblées nationales.” Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

Interview Carole Dieschbourg in the Börsen-Zeitung [Germany]: “Green Finance hat eine sehr große Zukunft vor sich.” 15 Mai 2018. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

Pierre Gramegna et Carole Dieschbourg présentent la nouvelle «Luxembourg Sustainable Finance Roadmap». Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

“Ermittlung und Bewertung der positiven und negativen Wirkungen des Treibstoffverkaufs unter besonderer Berücksichtigung negativer externer Umwelt-und Gesundheitseffekte –Status quo 2012 und maßnahmeninduzierte Veränderungen. Bericht für das Ministerium für Nachhaltige Entwicklung und Infrastrukturen des Großherzogtums Luxemburg.” Kurzfassung Mai 2016. Accessed 6th Dec. 2019.
The Norwegian government promotes itself as a lead actor in international environmental efforts and climate negotiations. As an oil and gas producer, it is also a substantial emitter of CO2. Norway is involved in the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). However, the country has also been criticized for buying itself out of burdensome domestic environmental obligations by purchasing international CO2 quotas instead of reducing emissions. Norway has invested in carbon-capture technologies, but positive results are not yet broadly evident. The country is additionally involved in helping spread technology related to renewable energy. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund is increasingly concerned about climate risks. The fund has recommended diversifying away from oil and gas production and has promoted the carbon risk financial disclosure initiative.
Global environmental policy is high among Switzerland’s foreign-policy priorities, and the country has played a significant role in designing and advancing global environmental-protection regimes. However, as a small country, Switzerland has limited independent influence. The European Union has taken a leading role in this area. Thus, Switzerland’s impact depends in large part upon efficient collaboration with the EU.
Under the Conservative governments of John Major (1990 – 1997), there was a policy shift and the United Kingdom became one of the foremost advocates of environmental protection standards in the European Union. The United Kingdom ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

The United Kingdom has consistently pursued environmental protection and the reduction of carbon emissions. The coalition government of 2010 continued the carbon emissions targets for 2020 set by the preceding Labour government. The new Conservative government is likely to maintain this approach.

The Conservative government has boosted the construction of both on-shore and off-shore wind farms to raise the United Kingdom’s share of renewable energies. Having previously encouraged fracking for natural gas, it now appears that public opposition to it has prevailed and companies in the sector are abandoning plans to continue drilling.

The United Kingdom ratified the Paris climate change deal at the Marrakech COP 22 summit in November 2016. The United Kingdom continues to be in the mainstream of European opinion on these issues and has deplored the Trump administration’s rejection of COP 21. Following a large-scale public consultation, the government plans to introduce new measures to curb the use of plastics, including plans to introduce a plastics tax announced in the October 2018 budget, arguably demonstrating international leadership. The international aid budget includes “clean energy” projects.
Citations: see page 48
The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
International regimes are often sector-specific. The core of each international regime is formed by international regulatory and administrative systems, which are created and implemented through formal agreements. While Finland is certainly committed to observing many multilateral and bilateral environmental agreements concerning climate change and air pollution, Finland is not among the primary agenda-setters with regard to the advancement of international regimes. However, Finland is ranked high (10th out of 180 countries) in the latest Environmental Performance index. Finland chaired the Arctic Council during the 2017 – 2019 period, an obligation that inevitably strengthened the country’s international position, especially with regard to questions pertaining to the Arctic region. In operational terms, Finland continues to promote the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed guidelines on how to arrange environmentally sustainable meetings, conferences and seminars. All meetings of the Finnish EU presidency in 2019 were held according to sustainability guidelines. Climate change took a considerably more prominent role in the Rinne government’s program than in that of its predecessor.
Katrina Running, “Examining Environmental Concern in Developed, Transitioning and Developing Countries,” World Values Research 5 (1): 1-25, 2012;
“Exploring Common Solutions – Finlands Chairmanship Program for the Arctic Council 2017-2019,” Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017.
The government of Canada in principle supports the design and advancement of global environmental-protection regimes. In the past, Canada’s approach to environmental policy has, to a large degree, followed that of the United States, given the close economic relations between the two countries. Three years into their mandate, the Liberals have generally focused on domestic policy and have rarely led on new international frameworks for environmental protection. At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) Prime Minister Trudeau announced CAD 30 million for the world’s poorest countries to combat climate change, and CAD 300 million to the Green Climate Fund for clean technology innovation.

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which was signed in November 2018 by Canada, the United States and Mexico as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), includes a chapter on environmental cooperation with the stated aim to “promote mutually supportive trade and environmental policies and practices.” Although experts criticized CUSMA as being weak on environmental protection, in particular, because it does not directly address climate change, the new agreement no longer includes NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (“ISDS”) system, which was often used to challenge Canadian environmental decision-making, and which many commentators believed had a chilling effect on environmental regulation in Canada.
Michael Connell, Canada: USMCA Trade Deal And The Environment, October 2018, Siskinds LLP. Retrieved Nov 12 2019 at
Germany is a driving force in international climate policy, in the development of renewable energies, and in efforts to improve energy and resource efficiency. The German government actively promotes strategies fostering environment- and climate-friendly development.

The G7 summit held in June 2015 achieved remarkable progress toward an international agreement for global climate protection. Germany, using its presidency of the G7, was able to ensure that climate policy had the highest priority during the summit, setting the stage for the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement committed to a maximum rise in average global temperatures of “well below 2 degrees.” The agreement is a breakthrough because, for the first time, nations have to define their contributions to fighting climate change (Germany: 2.56%). The Paris Agreement was formally ratified by the EU on 5 October 2016 and came into force on 4 November 2016 (European Commission 2016). Germany also ratified the Paris Agreement. The Bundesrat agreed to do so in September 2016, after the Bundestag gave its unanimous approval. However, detailed measures for the implementation of the ambitious climate objectives were not part of the Paris Agreement.

In November 2017, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) was hosted in Bonn, Germany. This was shortly after the German general elections on 24 September 2017, and the new government had not yet taken office. As a consequence, the new government was not able to present a detailed environmental policy. Surprisingly, Chancellor Angela Merkel subsequently opposed the new EU climate objectives that were announced in August 2018 by EU Commissioner for Climate Change Miguel Arias Canete. In the November 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, Germany made a €70 million contribution to the Adaptation Fund. Smaller pledges made by France, Sweden, Italy and the EU raised the total to $129 million – an annual record for the fund. In addition, Germany contributed €1.5 billion to the Green Climate Fund – double its 2014 contribution (UN 2019).

With increasing signs that Germany would not fulfill its own emissions-reduction targets, the country’s credibility in climate negotiations has suffered in recent years. The turn toward a more ambitious climate policy in 2019, with the legislated implementation of a CO2 price that includes traffic and housing, as well as a legal obligation to fulfill the reduction commitment (for details see “Environment”), has now strengthened Germany’s position as a credible negotiation partner.
United Nations (UN) 2019:

Leadersʼ Declaration G7 Summit, (7– 8 June 2015):

European Commission (2016): Paris Agreement.
The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for the country’s involvement in international environmental affairs. Iceland participates in the United Nations Environment Programme and is active under the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 in areas of sustainable development. Iceland is also one of the eight member states of the Arctic Council, a cooperation forum directed primarily toward environmental affairs and sustainable development, which includes five working groups. Two of these working groups – the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment – are located in Akureyri, in the north of Iceland. In early 2016 it was decided to move the secretariat of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) from Potsdam, Germany to Akureyri. The mission of IASC is to encourage and facilitate cooperation in all aspects of Arctic research, among all countries engaged in Arctic research and in all areas of the Arctic region.

Whaling remains a controversial economic activity in Iceland. On 15 September 2014, all 28 EU member states as well as the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, and New Zealand formally protested the continued practice of whaling in Iceland. The government of Iceland has not yet reacted to this protest and whaling continues, even though it is increasingly difficult to find markets for whale meat.

Iceland is still engaged in a dispute with the European Union over quotas for mackerel fishing. In 2014, an agreement was reached between the European Union, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. However, the agreement did not include Iceland. Mackerel migrates in huge numbers from international to Icelandic waters, and Iceland has been accused of overfishing mackerel.

Iceland was fully engaged at the Paris conference on climate change in late 2015 and on 22 April 2016 the minister of environment and natural resources signed the Paris agreement. New measures included in a new climate strategy (September 2018) are meant to help Iceland meet its Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and reach the government’s ambitious goal to make Iceland carbon neutral before 2040.
Ireland’s environmental policies are largely framed within an EU context. The Irish taoiseach (prime minister) attended the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 and stated during his speech that “Ireland will play its role as part of the EU contribution to the global effort. The European Union is committed to bringing forward its contribution to a global agreement early in 2015.” However, at the October 2014 EU summit, when this climate agreement was being drafted, Ireland entered pleas for special consideration regarding carbon emissions from its agricultural sector.
For many years, international climate policy profited considerably from Japanese commitment to the process, with the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 serving as the most visible evidence. Ever since, however, Japan has assumed a more passive role, though major Japanese cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Yokohama have shown substantial commitment to the elimination of carbon emissions. The Fukushima disaster in 2011, after which Japan had to find substitutes for its greenhouse-gas-free nuclear-power generation, rendered implausible a 2009 pledge to decrease greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by a quarter by 2020 (as compared to 1990). In the 2015 energy outlook for 2030, Japan announced that it would slash its emissions by 26% in 2030 (compared to 2013 levels).

Japan supports the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and has adopted relevant measures, including the May 2016 Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures. The plan reconfirms the goal of a 26% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, which is at the lower end for OECD countries. In its 2019 Economic Survey of Japan, the OECD criticized Japan’s climate policy as not forceful enough to reach the Paris goals. In June 2019, cabinet approved a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero during the second half of the 21st century.

Japan put climate change high on the agenda of the 2019 G-20 summit in Japan. However, due to U.S. opposition, little was actually accomplished. However, one notable success was the approval of the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, aimed in particular at tackling plastic waste.

With respect to multilaterally organized conservation issues, Japan is known for its resistance to giving up whaling. Commercial whaling was resumed in mid-2019.

Japan supports numerous international environmental-protection programs by contributing funds and making advanced technologies available, with significant emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through the Asian Development Bank, the Japanese government helped raised nearly $30 billion between 2011 and 2018 for projects supporting green growth. Over the past decade, Japanese overseas development assistance has also put a strong focus on projects addressing energy efficiency and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), Analysis and Proposal of Foreign Policies Regarding the Impact of Climate Change on Fragility in the Asia-Pacific Region – With focus on natural disasters in the Region, September 2017

OECD Economic Survey Japan, May 2019, Paris

Eric Johnston, G20 world leaders agree on some issues, but significant gaps remain following Osaka summit, The Japan Times, 30 June 2019,

Robin Harding, Japan restarts commercial whaling after 31 years, Financial Times, 2 July 2019,

Leslie Hook, Japan dilutes G20 climate pledge in push to win US trade favours, Financial Times, 19 September 2019,

Elliot Silverberg and Elizabeth Smith, Does Japan have a global environmental strategy?, Japan Times, 12 November 2019,
Spain is committed to existing multilateral environmental protection regimes (including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals). During the period under review, the Spanish government supported the efforts of the COP 24 climate summit, and reinforced its intention to preserve the global environment, including through the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda with horizontal competences across the entire public administration.

The Spanish government also supported several foreign projects (such as the construction of wind farms in developing countries and the establishment of the Ibero-American Network of Climate Change Offices, in conjunction with Latin American countries), as well as emissions-trading projects aimed at helping the country comply with its pledges to reduce national CO2 emissions. More importantly in terms of international initiatives, Spain joined the Carbon Neutrality Coalition. The members of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, which include Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom, have vowed to reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2050. In the fight against forest fires, Spain is now a global reference country in the prevention and extinction. It has announced a more ambitious national determined commitment (NDC) for lowering emissions and has strongly supported European Union’s Green New Deal. Spain also belongs to the Finance Ministers’ Coalition for climate action, and signed the Helsinki Principles to share best practices and introduce environmental taxation reform.

At the end of the period under review, the government of Pedro Sánchez sent a strong signal of its active commitment to contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regime. At the end of October 2019, Chile announced that it could not host the COP 25 event because of violent anti-government protests in the capital of Santiago. With barely a month before the conference was expected to be held, Spain stepped in and agreed to host the event in Madrid, a considerable task that the German government had said “would not have been logistically possible” at the UNFCCC’s headquarters in Bonn, where the COP was held in 2017. Nevertheless, Chile retained the presidency, with the event rebranded as “COP 25 Chile Madrid.”
Citations:, (2018), 19 countries team up to go carbon neutral,
November (2017), “Progress toward Europe’s climate and energy targets” themes/climate/trends-and-projections-in-europe/trends-and-projections -in-europe-2017/index

November 2019, El Pais, Spain to host UN climate summit,
Austria’s approach to global environmental policy is full of contradictions. Rhetorically, Austria (the government, political parties, media) paints itself as a frontrunner in global governance, from Kyoto to Copenhagen and Paris. In practice, however, the country’s efforts do not support this conclusion. Austria is still proud of its 1978 decision not to use nuclear energy, one of the first countries to do so worldwide. This has become a kind of national narrative, in which Austria is proud to be in the vanguard of enlightened environmental consciousness. Austria tends to lecture others, including its neighbors in Europe, about the need to improve ecological standards. But when it has come to the practical job of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Austria continues to fall behind its peers. The real power of special interests (such as the automobile associations, goods transporters, and industry) has thus far proven too strong to overcome.

When the U.S. president declared that the United States will not respect the Paris climate agreement, the public reaction in Austria was very critical of the American trend to lower environmental protection standards. But, the anti-Trump mood in Austria is indirectly used to cover-up Austria’s underperformance in most aspects of climate change.

The Austrian government is still committed to the Paris climate agreement despite some signals of a greater support for the U.S. position since Donald Trump has become president. In addition, Austria appears increasingly less interested in playing the role of vanguard in matters of environmental protection – either globally or within the European Union.

It is likely that the end of the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition will result in a more environmentally sensitive approach to policymaking in Austria on the international and especially on the European level. However, it is unlikely that Austria will accept (or even promote) a shift from the member-state level to the EU level in decision-making power regarding environmental matters.
The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and international efforts but it is not a genuine promoter of global environmental protection. There has been at least one specific initiative regarding the protection of Antarctica, but in general terms, the government neither initiates significant reforms nor plays a leading role in their advancement within the international community. Chile signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in September 2016, which was ratified by the parliament in January 2017.

The country was scheduled to host the 25th United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2019, but due to the social crisis of October 2019, President Piñera canceled the summit. The intention to assume the role as host can be seen as signaling an intention to play a more active role in global environmental-protection initiatives.
Croatia ratified the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 and strongly adheres to international environmental standards. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement. However, it has not launched any initiatives for global environmental protection, and the development of its low-carbon 2030 development strategy has progressed slowly.
Estonia has joined most important global and European agreements, and displayed its commitment to these international agreements and targets. Estonia has ratified the Paris Agreement, and is taking steps to switch to more environmentally sustainable economic and behavioral models. In October 2014, Estonia agreed to the EU energy and climate goals for 2030. At the end of 2019, the government decided to support the EU goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, having opposed the goal in June 2019 along with three other eastern EU member states.

The Estonian government occasionally contributes to the global fight against climate change by supporting the export of green technologies to developing countries.

A global bottom-up civil society movement, World Cleanup Day, was born in Estonia and has become one of the largest contemporary civil society movements worldwide. In 2019, 180 countries and 20 million people came together to rid the planet of trash – cleaning up litter and mismanaged waste from beaches, rivers, forests and streets.
The contribution of the Italian government to international efforts in the field of global environmental protection has been generally positive. Italy has been supportive of coordinated international actions, including the recent COP 21 Paris conference, but in general has not played a significant leadership role. This is due also to the fact that the resources of the Ministry of Environment have been seriously curtailed. Due to the recent economic crisis, the attention of the government and the priorities of the prime minister have been diverted to internal matters, and economic recovery.

The June 2017 G7 meeting, chaired by Italy the minister of environment, reaffirmed Italy’s strong support for COP21. At the 2017 Bonn COP23 summit, Italy joined the anti-coal alliance, declaring that it would phase coal out by 2030. Through the mechanism of the national consortium for the recycling of packaging (CONAI), Italy exceeded European 2020 targets in this field in 2019. This relates to a considerable proportion of plastics production, and offers an efficient model for other countries. With regard to the maritime environment, Italy in 2019 joined France and Spain’s proposal to create a Mediterranean emissions control area (ECA).
Latvia is not an international environmental policy agenda-setter. The country has agreed to comply with international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, but does not have the political or economic capacity to lead on a global scale.

Latvia has joined the following international conventions regarding environmental protection and preservation: the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the CITES (Washington) Convention, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats, the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro Convention) and the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (Helsinki Convention).

Latvia has also been a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 1995 and to the Kyoto Protocol since 2002. The 2019 Climate Change Performance Index, which evaluated emissions trends, emissions levels and climate policy, rated Latvia as a high performer overall, especially regarding the management of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the index also indicated Latvia’s lower performance regarding renewable energy production and energy use.

Latvia has also signed bilateral cooperation agreements on the issue of environmental policy with Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Finland and Ukraine. The country is party to the Helsinki Commission Baltic Sea Action Plan of 2007, which aims to improve the Baltic Sea’s ecological status by 2021.

As an EU member state, Latvia is bound by EU legislation, with EU climate policy particularly influential. Latvia indirectly contributes to EU initiatives, but does not directly advance global environmental protection regimes.
1. Germanwatch (2019). Climate Change Performance Index. Available at:, Last assessed 04.11.2019

2. Yale University (2018), Environmental Performance Index Rankings, Available at: Last assessed: 04.11.2019
Lithuanian policymakers do contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental-protection regimes, but this policy area is not perceived as a government priority. Lithuania has demonstrated commitment to existing regimes (especially those promulgated by the EU or promoted by its institutions) by incorporating international or European environmental provisions into national legislation or strategic documents and implementing them. For example, in 2012, the Lithuanian parliament approved a national policy strategy on climate-change management as a further step in implementing Lithuania’s commitments in the area of climate change and energy. Although Lithuanian policymakers are not usually active in advancing global environmental strategies, Lithuania contributed to the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in 2013 as part of its presidency of the European Council. In addition, Lithuania successfully initiated the 2013 U.N. resolution on cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea. The country’s institutions are most active at the regional level, for instance addressing issues related to the Baltic Sea. In recent years, concerns about the safety of the Astravyets nuclear-power plant, currently under construction in neighboring Belarus, have become an important issue. Lithuania has outlawed the use of electricity derived from Belarusian nuclear-power plants, and is trying to dissuade other Baltic countries from buying it. The appointment of Virginijus Sinkevičius as the commissioner responsible for the environment, oceans and fisheries in the 2019 – 2024 European Commission may boost Lithuania’s efforts to strengthen environmental protection at the EU level, or at least place greater attention on environmental issues in the country’s public debates.
Malta’s small size has traditionally hindered it from being a key player in international global policy forums. Nonetheless, since independence, it has been influential in the Law of the Sea and was instrumental in the adoption of the Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Mankind resolution, which gave rise to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol in 1988. Moreover, Malta has played a dynamic role in efforts to meet climate resolutions agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describing Malta as a key player in the efforts to “seal the deal.”

Malta is party to a large number of multilateral environment agreements. As an EU member state, Malta is bound by the obligations of the EU’s extensive environmental acquis. When Malta joined the European Union, it adopted some 200 environmental laws, which are now part of the overall Maltese legal framework. Malta has attempted to play a part in formulating a Mediterranean strategy for sustainable development. Nonetheless, the island fell eight places in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals ranking in 2018.

In the run-up to the Paris Summit on Climate Change, Malta’s prime minister hosted a special session on Climate for Leaders during the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. More than a quarter of the 2015 CHOGM participants attended the Paris Summit and the 2015 CHOGM was used as a forum within which support was consolidated. In 2016, Malta became one of the first countries to complete domestic preparations for the ratification of the Paris Agreement and subsequently deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the United Nations together with other EU member states.

In October 2017, Malta hosted the EU’s Our Ocean Conference. The conference led to the adoption of 437 tangible and measurable commitments, among other deliverables. The Ocean Tracker (an interactive map that follows over €10 billion in commitments made by governments, businesses and NGOs), which was recently launched at the EU level, was one of the commitments made during this conference. However, Malta remains an insignificant, if active, player in global environmental protection.

In October 2019, Malta’s parliament resolved to give greater emphasis to international action on climate change.
Times of Malta 12/12/2008 U.N. Secretary-General recalls Malta’s climate change initiative BT4qfl95PY
Newsbook 11/10/2018 Malta falls 8 places in U.N. Sustainable Development Goals ranking
The Malta Independent 07/09/2015 CHOGM 2015 to give final push to Paris climate change Summit – Environment Minister
The Malta Independent 30/09/2016 Malta among first countries to finalize preparations for ratification of Paris Agreement
European Commission Press Releases 22/10/2019 EU makes 22 new commitments for clean, healthy and safe oceans and launches The Ocean Tracker
Mexico relishes having an international profile that shows independence from the United States. International environmental protection contributes to such a profile. Mexico is a leading international actor on environmental policy within the region, even if its domestic policies are inconsistent: Mexico is still the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America. Firewood remains the primary fuel used by poor Mexican families. Moreover, the importance of the oil industry for the Mexican economy creates substantial barriers to credible domestic action even as it seeks to position itself as a pioneer in international environmental protection.

Mexican authorities and the public are at least much more aware of environmental issues and their resulting problems than they were a generation ago. The country’s climate-change law went into effect in October 2012, drawing international praise. There is an underfunded Climate Change Fund, created to finance adaptation and greenhouse-gas emissions-reduction initiatives. Its operating rules have apparently been completed, but have not yet been published. Additional challenges associated with implementing the law relate to the creation of a national climate-change information system, the effective reduction of greenhouse gases, and producing assessments of adaptation and mitigation measures. Mexico is also one of the main recipients of clean development mechanisms in Latin America. It has advocated for the continuation of this development and environmental cooperation mechanism in several environmental policy forums.

Overall, Mexico was one of the first countries in the world to pass a specific law on climate change. The law set an obligatory target of reducing national greenhouse-gas emissions by 30% by 2020. The country also has a National Climate Change Strategy, which is intended to guide policymaking over the next 40 years. However, only about half of the Mexican states had drawn up a state plan on climate change, just seven had passed their own laws and only 11 had begun measuring their CO2 emissions. Thus, on the one hand, Mexico has been very active in the preparation of the U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda, reflecting the country’s traditional multilateral approach to foreign policymaking. Mexico has been an active participant in climate-change talks involving international organizations. During the most recent COP23 meeting in 2017, it was praised for its innovative policies on gathering data about electricity consumption in central Mexico.
New Zealand
New Zealand has signed a number of multilateral agreements on environmental protection, thus signaling that these issues are considered global common goods rather than just domestic problems. These include agreements regulating toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases (e.g., the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention), international traffic in hazardous waste (e.g., the Basel Convention, the Waigani Convention, the Rotterdam Convention), biodiversity and species conservation (e.g., the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals ), and natural resources (e.g., the Noumea Convention). New Zealand is also a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It signed the Kyoto Protocol (which sought to reduce greenhouse emissions during 2008-2012 time period) but did not join the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020). New Zealand is also a member of the Green Climate Fund but has formally pledged only USD 0.57 per capita (compared to Australia’s per capita pledge of USD 8 and Sweden’s per capita pledge of USD 59). In 2016, New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement, thereby pledging to limit global warming increases to 1.5°C in the future. However, Climate Action Tracker rates New Zealand’s domestic measures as “highly insufficient,” meaning that “current policies are not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and are instead consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C.” (see also Stats NZ 2019).
Fyers, New Zealand’s outsized climate change contribution, Stuff (
Climate Action Tracker, New Zealand (
Stats NZ (2019), Environment Aotearoa.
Green Climate Fund, “Resource mobilisation” (
Ministry for the Environment, “International environmental agreements” (
Portugal agrees to and participates in EU-wide policies on the environment. Portugal signed the Kyoto Protocol and, in September 2016, ratified the Paris Agreement.

The country has also become much more active in promoting the global protection of marine environments, taking advantage of its unique and very large maritime area. Indeed, Portugal has the third largest exclusive economic zone in the European Union and the 20th largest in the world. This is reflected in the country hosting the annual Oceans Meeting, congregating ministers responsible for ocean/maritime affairs from around the world.

Portugal’s commitment to advancing global environmental protection is reflected in its performance in the “International Climate Policy” indicator of the 2019 CCPI, which specifically measures countries’ international climate diplomacy. Portugal is rated as “very high” in this indicator, reflecting its collaborative role in international negotiations. Nevertheless, the proviso in the previous question regarding implementation of domestic environmental policy is applicable at the global level as well.
Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Franziska Marten, Niklas Höhne, Christoph Bals (2019), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2019, available online at:
Geography determines the priorities of Slovenia’s international environmental relationships, notably with respect to water management and the conservation of biodiversity. Slovenia’s commitment to sustainable development on a regional and subregional scale is articulated through various cooperation agreements covering the alps, the Danube and its tributaries, and the Mediterranean (including the Adriatic). Slovenia has signed and ratified almost all multilateral environmental agreements.
The Dinaric Arc area is an emerging focus of cooperation. Bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and its neighboring countries includes various cross-border agreements, such as water management agreements with Croatia, Hungary and Italy, as well as agreements with Austria on spatial planning in border regions. Slovenia has continued to maintain many informal contacts at a professional/ technical level with the countries of the Western Balkans. Compared to these regional activities, Slovenia’s contribution to strengthening global environmental protection regimes has been modest.
South Korea
While South Korea typically ratifies international agreements on environmental protection, it does not tend to take initiative in this area, and the agreements do not play an important role in domestic political decisions. The country ratified the Paris Agreement of 2015 on 3 November 2016, and hosts both the Global Green Growth Institute and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In October 2019, President Moon promised to double Korea’s contribution to the GCF. In 2018, the government announced that Korean greenhouse gas emissions would peak in 2020. While the Moon government has shown more ambition with regard to emission reductions than in other environmental-protection areas, the challenges remain substantial. Korea is the world’s seventh-largest emitter of carbon-dioxide emissions, and twelfth-largest with regard to total greenhouse-gas emissions. It has officially announced that it will cut its emissions by 2030 to a level 37% below the business-as-usual trend, which means an increase of 81% over the levels of 1990. To achieve these goals, the government has launched several emissions-reduction programs including an emissions-trading system for key sectors, a green building plan, an incentive system supporting electric and hybrid vehicles, and measures supporting environmentally friendly public transportation. Unfortunately, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), South Korea is unlikely under current policies to meet its nationally determined contribution target, which the CAT already rates as “highly insufficient.” Indeed, under current projections, Korea’s emissions will be more than 150% above 1990 levels in 2030. The Moon administration – like previous governments – does not place a particularly high priority on its global environmental responsibilities. Instead of articulating a comprehensive strategy for a transition to a carbon-neutral society, the government has been quick to give in to populist demands for low electricity and fuel prices. Recently, international environmental NGOs have pushed Korea’s government to stop funding coal power in developing countries such as Indonesia. Korea is the world’s second-largest investor in the global coal-finance market, following China. Although the country has ratified the Convention on Biodiversity, protecting biodiversity has played an important role in the planning of new industrial or housing developments.
Korea Times, Korea to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 37% by 2030, Jun 30, 2015
Climate Action Tracker. South Korea. September 17, 2017.
Hankyoreh. “A step backward for the South Korean government’s goals for greenhouse gas reduction.” January 30, 2017.
NRDC: Paris Climate Conference: South Korea. November 2015.
Yonhap News. 2019. “Minister says S. Korea playing key role in global fight against climate change.” Retrieved from
The Dutch government has traditionally been a strong supporter of EU leadership in the Kyoto process of global climate policy and advancing global environmental protection regimes. It has also signed related international treaties on safety, food security, energy and international justice. The government continues to aspire to a coherent sustainability policy or a “policy agenda for globalization.” It regards resource and energy scarcity, transborder disease control, climate change, transborder crime, and international trade agreements as the most pressing global issues.

As an immediate response, climate change is addressed mainly as a mitigation effort, for example, through the Dutch Risk Reduction Team, offering assistance and expertise to water-related risk areas around the globe. A coherent globalization policy also means that research is conducted and monitoring is performed regarding any ways that one policy may undermine others. In spite of this intention, Dutch reassessment of development aid appears to favor bilateral over multilateral global sustainability policy. For example, the financing of Dutch initiatives in advancing global public goods is no longer separately budgeted but is instead part of the diminishing development-aid budget.
The Netherlands participates in efforts targeting global climate resilience that are focused on tapping technological innovation to reduce CO2. Bilateral projects with various countries outside the EU are centered on knowledge sharing, particularly in the area of water management. Water management is also a key element of the Dutch contribution to the Global Commission on Adaptation, of which the Netherlands is initiator, a convening country and a direct funder.

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment is an independent advisory body composed of experts. In 2017, it won an award for the quality of its services. It provides advisory services and capacity development to international governments on the quality of environmental assessments, with the aim of contributing to sound decision-making. However, on the domestic front, its data on nitrogen deposits in protected natural areas were called into question by major political parties when court cases on the issue forced the government to take urgent measures in the agricultural and construction sectors.

Military aspects have been added to the International Safety Budget, which previously referenced only diplomatic and civic activities. Defense spending in response to the revival of NATO in Europe and threats in the Middle East will increase from €220 million to €345 million between 2016 and 2020. As mentioned under the previous indicator (“Environmental Policy”) the Paris Climate Accords have triggered major new Dutch policy initiatives in the area of global environmental protection.
Kabinetsreactie op het WRR-rapport: Minder pretentie, meer ambitie (2010) (

Adapt now: a global call for leadership on climate resilience. Global Commission on Adaptation, September 2019

Additional reference:

Rijksbegroting 2016 Defensie (, consulted 6 November 2019)

Netherlands Commission on Environmental Assessment, 2018 (, accessed 8 November 2018)
The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
Australia is not prioritizing the advancement of global environmental protection regimes. After winning the 2013 election, the coalition abolished the carbon tax introduced by the previous labor government. While this is a domestic issue, the coalition’s strong anti-carbon tax posture indicates the Liberal party and its coalition partner is much less enthusiastic than the previous Labor party government about participating in a global environmental protection regime. The current Morrison government has retained the Abbott government’s reluctance to advance global cooperation to protect the environment, though it participates in numerous multilateral and bilateral forums dealing with environmental issues, and is a signatory to many international treaties/agreements.

The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981 and the Australian government considers it a responsibility to protect it as a global common good. To this end, an updated Reef 2050 Plan was released in July 2018 with the goal of ensuring the reef’s preservation.
The topic of environmental sustainability does play a role in the internal and international political discourses of the Bulgarian government and politicians, but government is relatively passive with respect to international environmental and climate policies. While the country has a relatively large share of renewables in its energy mix, it is among the group of East-Central European countries that are comparatively cautious about adopting aggressive carbon reduction targets. The government chose not to include environmental topics among its priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2018. Bulgaria also contributes relatively little to the Green Climate Fund.
Environmental policy in Czechia is shaped to a large degree by the country’s obligations to implement EU legislation. In its government manifesto, the Babiš government reiterated its commitment to the tasks and objectives of the Paris Agreement. Over time, however, Czechia has moved from being a passive recipient of EU and international agendas to playing an active role in blocking the EU’s establishment of more ambitious environmental goals. Together with other East-Central European member states (Estonia, Poland, and Hungary), Czechia is not ready to wean itself off coal. The country also does the least amount possible to fulfill EU obligations, and is not very effective when doing so.
Hungary signed the Paris Agreement and has adhered to EU agreements. Within the European Union, however, the Hungarian government has fought for weakening the European Union’s ambitions. It has argued that Hungary, as a less developed country, needs higher emission quotas in order to catch up. At the European Council summit held on 21 June 2019, Hungary was among the four countries to block the European Union’s plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050, along with Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Hungary has also joined forces with countries like the Czech Republic and France to try to include nuclear power in the calculation of European climate change policies.
Bolcsó, D. et al. (2019): Hungary amongst four countries blocking EU carbon neutrality as Government prioritises utility price reduction program, in: Index, June 21 (

Kovács, Z. (2019): Hungarian President ahead of UN Climate Action Summit: Hungary has a smaller responsibility for climate change, in: Index, September 20 (
Israel is a relatively small participant in the international climate-policy network, but is constantly contributing innovative environmental technologies, and is demonstrating responsibility in its local policy. In recent years it has taken a larger role in environmental policy matters, partly due to a rise in public awareness of these issues, and partly due to its accession to international organizations and treaties. Israel has signed, ratified or acceded 20 environmental conventions, as well as several amendments and protocols to those conventions.

The country has been forced to develop technological and ecological solutions due to the unique and diverse nature of the Israeli climate, the country’s scarcity of natural drinking water, and its hostile neighboring countries. Thus, it has become a dominant actor in the “clean tech” field. The country has developed an industry of more than 400 companies dedicated exclusively to sustainable water, energy, and environmental technologies. It has launched green-technology projects aimed at demonstrating its achievements in the fields of desalination and water recycling, and actively shares information and technologies with other countries. Israel is also involved in international anti-desertification efforts since it is an important exporter of new methods and technologies developed specifically for arid regions.

The Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal to integrate the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals into Israeli programs in order to improve governance and strategic planning. The cabinet passed the resolution on 14 July 2019. The proposal had been led by the prime minister, as well as the ministers for environmental protection and foreign affairs.

As part of Agenda 2030, which Israel has adopted, each government ministry should set environmental protection goals and then report on what progress has been made in achieving these goals to the relevant international bodies.
“Government OKs Decision to Implement Sustainable Development Indicators,” Ministry of Environmental Protection, 14.7.2019 (Hebrew):

“Israel and World Bank Group sign agreement to share innovative best practices in water,” The World Bank website 17.6.2015:

Israel Ministry of Environment Protection:

OECD, “Israel’s Green Tax on Cars” OECD Environment Policy Paper, July 2016,
Romania continues to be an active participant in multilateral fora focused on environmental stewardship and climate change. An example of this engagement was the announcement that Romania is the future home of a North American Treaty Organization (NATO) Centre of Excellence focused on environmental protection. The new center will be co-developed and managed by the Ministries of Defense and the Environment. Like all signatories to the 2015 Paris Conference on Climate Change, Romania has taken some measures to uphold its commitments, but the withdrawal of the United States has relieved some international pressure to meet its obligations.
As part of the European Union, Slovakia supports the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework, and its contribution to the global Paris Agreement. Slovakia was the fourth country to ratify the Paris Agreement, and the ratification of the agreement by all key states featured prominently among Slovakia’s priorities during its EU presidency in the second half of 2016. However, Slovakia has not acted as an international agenda-setter for global environmental policy. It signed a contribution agreement with the Green Climate Fund as recently as September 2019.
Global efforts to foster environmental protection are coordinated by the European Commission and the Belgian federal government seems to have taken a backseat role in that process. In the 2009 – 2014 federal government, the minister of sustainable development portfolio was held by the minister of finance. In the Michel government, the minister for energy and the environment had never worked on energy or environmental matters before taking the position.

It should thus come as no surprise that the main demonstrations in favor of a more active environmental policy have been met with disdain by key political figures or with police repression. For instance, the Flemish minister for environmental policy had to resign after having expressed a suspicion that some young activists were effectively acting as destabilizing agents for foreign secret services. As a reaction, the May 2019 elections have brought green parties to the forefront in Brussels and Wallonia, but less so in Flanders which has selected a largely eco-skeptic minister for environmental policy.
Cyprus has ratified many international conventions and protocols relating to environmental protection, and it participates in numerous international organizations and meetings. However, policies are not proactive and though authorities appear concerned with meeting obligations to the EU and other bodies, they often fail to act efficiently. Though the republic has contributed to shaping EU maritime policies, it is not an agenda setter. In 2019, President Anastasiades offered a proposal on cooperation on climate change to the UN Secretary-General and leaders of eastern Mediterranean countries. NGOs called the initiative hypocritical given the country’s poor environmental performance.
Government accused of hypocrisy over climate change action, Cyprus Mail, 24 September 2019,
Greece participated in the negotiations and signed the Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015. However, owing to its prolonged economic crisis, Greece has not carried enough international clout to substantially contribute to strengthening global environmental protection regimes. Moreover, any emissions reduction is owed less to the strengthening of environmental protections than to the fact that the economy has remained stagnant for a long time, with industrial and other businesses closing down or relocating to other countries.
Data on emissions reduction is provided by tables available on this SGI platform.
Poland has been active on the international scene. In 2018, it hosted the World Climate Council (COP 24) in Katowice and chaired the so-called Talanoa Dialogue forum (jointly with Fiji), which aims to find compromises to help countries fulfill their climate-protection goals. In Katowice, Polish representatives presented an initiative called “Forest Coal Farms,” which focused on reforestation efforts as a means of combating climate change. Poland has become a party in the Global Pact for the Environment process, launched by the U.N. General Assembly in May 2018, and coordinated by the European Union for EU member states. Within the European Union, the primary focus of Poland’s environmental policies, Poland has taken a restrictive stance. At the European Council summit in summer 2019, Poland, along with Estonia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, blocked a declaration to achieve environmental neutrality by 2050. The Polish government is not enthusiastic about the European Commission’s commitment to developing a new green deal.
It has always insisted on an acknowledgment of its special situation arising from its energy and economic dependence on its coal industry.
Riedel, R. (2019): Die polnische Klima- und Energiepolitik. Polen-Analysen Nr. 230, Darmstadt/ Bremen (
Turkey’s Climate Change Action Plan 2011 – 2023 stresses its adherence to international commitments, standards and measures and foresees increasing cooperation with international actors, especially in the fields of combating climate change and improving energy efficiency, along with an active role in international activities more generally.

Reservations based on national concerns complicated negotiations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which entered into force on 4 November 2016 after 55 parties to the convention joined the agreement. The Turkish Ministry of the Environment and Urban Planning signed the Paris Agreement in New York in 2016. However, the Turkish parliament is yet to ratify the agreement. Turkey is one of 10 countries out of the 197 parties to the agreement that has not yet ratified the agreement. According to Şahin (2016), Turkey lacks the political will to adopt a better climate policy. Additionally, Turkey’s plastic waste imports rose sharply from 4,000 tons per month in early 2016 to 33,000 tons per month in early 2018, with the United Kingdom being the largest exporter. Although Turkey struggles to manage its own waste, it has become a collector of waste form industrial countries, including some southeast Asian countries.
Republic of Turkey, Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2023, (accessed 5 November 2014).

Ümit Şahin (2016), Warming a Frozen Policy: Challenges to Turkey’s Climate Politics after Paris, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Volume 15 Number 2, pp. 116-129.

Greenpeace, Data from the global plastics waste trade 2016-2018 and the offshore impact of China’s foreign waste import ban, 23 April 2019, (accessed 5 November 2014).
The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
The Trump administration represents a sharp reversal of the U.S. role on international environmental issues. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, the United States exercised leadership on a wide range of international environmental issues. However, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases (GHGs) was a turning point, as the Clinton administration signed the protocol, committing the United States to a schedule of emission reductions, but later abandoned an evidently doomed effort to win Senate ratification. In 2001, the Bush administration formally withdrew the United States’ endorsement of the protocol.

The Obama administration sharply reversed Bush’s policy direction on environmental issues, especially with regard to climate change. But limited support from Congress and the public constrained U.S. positions in international negotiations. Nevertheless, the U.S. rejoined the United Nations process on climate change. In 2014, it committed to reducing total U.S. carbon emissions by 26% to 28% in comparison with 2005 levels, and it played a leading role in the December 2015 U.N. Conference on Climate Change (COP21), although lacking an effective national carbon reduction strategy.

In his presidential campaign, Donald Trump denied the reality of human-driven climate change and vowed to abandon costly policies designed to control greenhouse gases. As president, Trump has withdrawn the United States from the international climate-change regime and canceled U.S. contributions to support conversion to clean energy by low-income countries. Importantly, some states (especially California) have indicated their intention to continue progress in reducing carbon emissions. But California does not play a significant role in supporting the international regimes for environmental control. Under President Trump there will no leadership and little, if any, cooperation from the U.S. federal government in international climate-change efforts.

Marine plastic pollution threatens biodiversity through entanglement, ingestion and chemical exposure. The United States is in the top 20 of 192 coastal countries with mismanaged waste entering the ocean. Regarding single‐use plastics and fishing nets, two major sources of plastic pollution, the United States currently does not have a federal ban on most single‐use plastics or on synthetic gillnets.
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