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The world was once vast and unknown. Communication was once dreaded as messages would take exceeded amounts of time from one point of destination to the next. Countries would not know of each other?s affairs for months because the world was large beyond anyone?s imagination. But as soon as technology reared its head the world rapidly became smaller. It modified everything within its grasp. Communication that once took months could now take seconds. Travelling abroad that would have taken years now took hours. Every institution that fell into this form of globalisation changed.
It is obvious to see that governments have also been effected by globalisation in such ways that they can either imitate or contrast with each other. Yet a controversy exists about the issue on the effect of globalisation on governmental power. On one side of the argument globalisation is considered as a force that weakens the power of government whereas others debate the contrary, claiming that there is no effect and power remains constant. Still both arguments fail because of the extremity that they impose. A better argument would be that globalisation does effect government power, not to the point of weakening, but ensuring that no abuse of power occurs unknowingly. Globalisation is simply a tool that enables the actions of governments to be monitored by other countries and world organisations. With comparison of Australian and Canadian environmental policy, it will be clear that actions taken by the government have been influenced (not controlled) by globalisation.
The idea of the world becoming a small interactive village is what many would consider the effect of globalisation. Boundaries are no longer an issue and can be crossed with an easy click of the mouse. But globalisation is far from being a new concept that came along with technology. It has existed since humans have had curiosity. The exploring of new lands, the discovery of new peoples and nations, to the fascination of nature?s physical features, people have been in the process of globalisation for centuries. Technology had simply allowed globalisation to progress a little more rapidly than what it had accomplished in the past.
Although it seems that globalisation brings promise of a unified Utopian society this is far from becoming the truth. Today?s world is based on the market. The selling of goods and services to the consumer to gain profit. Therefore globalisation has become the expansion of the market place with greater opportunities for production and trade in new locations.1 Relations are established between nations, not for the mere satisfaction of peace, but for the insurance that a trading partner exists where profit can be gained. This motivation from profit leads to the element of the manufacturing process. In order to achieve maximum profit corporations need to spend less in producing a product. They go about this through means of cheap energy fuel (usually fossil fuels like coal), low labour wages, and cutting costs in waste disposal. For an exceeded amount of time corporations have been able to escape the clutches of the law because it was seen that damage to the environment was a small price to pay in exchange for high profits. For instance abuse to the Canadian forests in the past two centuries has led to a large proportion of it being cut, 8 000 kilometres long and hundreds of kilometres wide.2 When large damage has been inflicted only then will people?s concerns be aroused. Governments then needed to intervene, to steer corporations from inflicting anymore damage to resources and environment. Canadian government had only made environmental policy a main concern since 1985. It was in the Ontario provincial election where pollution was made a significant issue. This was the first time ever that the issue of pollution was made a priority. Ever since the topic of concern for pollution has been maintained by both provincial and federal institutions.3 Australia on the other hand began its involvement on the issue in 1980. It was in this year that the World Conservation Strategy was published and the country took it upon itself to formulate a similar document that would help enforce the idea of sustainable environment throughout the nation.4
Although government intervention seems to guarantee some progress towards sustainability the idea of globalisation alters the desired effects. World trade allows the cheapest producer to gain maximum profits. Competition for profits is then always present. In order for competition to exist all producers must somehow keep product costs low while maintaining or increasing product output. If legislation is passed within a country that holds a corporation responsible for destruction to the environment by means of their waste, corporations can still outrun any consequences from their actions. It is difficult to prosecute institutions because they are essential.5 They provide jobs, goods and services, and distribute money towards many organisations. The industry allows economy to prosper as well as many citizens that partake in the production and consumption of the goods. The destruction of the environment is seen as irrelevant to the benefits of cash profit that the industry brings.
What corporations fail to observe is the future outlook. The concern is only on maximum exploitation for maximum gain. No corporation has interest in conservation because of the mentality of whatever is left by a corporation will simply be used by a competitor.6 Yet the immediate gains will not always be present because sooner or later resources will be exhausted and there will then be a failure to produce, soon followed by a collapse within the industry production and profit. Sustainability will ensure that resources can be reserved as well as allowing time for some replenishment. It is for this reason that governments have decided to be involved, for a fall in industry would lead to a fall in the economy and the welfare of the state. Canada and Australia share the same vision when it comes to sustainability. Both understand that environmental policy is essential to maintain a prosperous nation. There has been a similar vision on the purpose of developing environmental policy. The development is to allow (i) multiple times scales in which the present is considered as well as the near and farther future; (ii) effect on various dimensions of social life where economy, environment, and social equity are viewed as equal; and (iii) diverse social and ecological scales where region and locality are a concern as well as the global nation.7 All three aspects are to produce an ecologically balanced society, with stable institutions designed to assure equilibrium within tolerances that the natural environment can support.8 This is much easier said than done. The event of there being total agreement is never achieved and compromising always leads to one or all parties involved to be unsatisfied.
In order to satisfy government policy, as well as avoid negative outbreaks by environmental conscience citizens, corporations need to follow the specified guidelines of environmental sustainability. Institutions then need to pay much more attention and effort towards waste elimination and treatment. This costs a substantial amount of money. Two options are to either increase product prices or cut spending on other operations within the process. Increasing prices would allow costs to be covered and avoid in any profit loss experienced by the corporation but high prices could cause for decrease in profit for it causes a decrease in profits by the lower prices This again is a of current competitors. This is the reason why the second option is more favourable. Cutting costs in the operation allows for the same amount to be spent on production and in some instances even less. Most popular method of cutting is within the removal of management layers. By eliminating certain amounts of staff and replacing them with computers and automation manufacturing processes companies can then compete in the world market.9 This occurs mostly in wealthy nations such as Canada, Australia, England, and the United States. Since poor nations have no strict policies on labour leading to low wage structures, production by corporations within these nations can produce product cheaply and sell at an admirably low price.10 Since wealthy nations have high labour costs, expensive social programs, and a high degree of foreign investment, in order to compete in the world market they choose to employ less.11 It seems to be a simple enough tactic but other corporations have been so used to a certain process of production that instead of changing their methods they would rather relocate to poorer nations in which they could keep profits or exceed them tenfold.
Globalisation leads to the reallocation of corporations. In less hostile environments, these corporate conglomerates can destroy and manipulate the environment to their pleasing and will not be accused for they supply many jobs in a poor nation that needs income to fuel its economy. This global mobility allows corporations to escape environmental policy. The acceleration of jobless growth in poor nations leads to unemployment, creating pressures that allow economic activity that is destructive as well as it undermines efforts of mitigation, planning, and regulatory enforcement.12 Environmental policy with absence of enforcement leads to the lack of interest in enforcement. The NAFTA agreement, the elimination of tariffs among trading countries, between the United States, Canada, and the developing Mexico is a good example of how businesses escape strict policy. Because of Mexico?s low wage enforcement and anti-union government, environmental policy falls prey to lower standards and enforcement.13 The nation really does feel opposed to the destruction but if they fail to allow industries to do so they will lose business to global mobility. The problem is does not lie on government passing legislation for policies have been made. The problem lies within the amount of enforcement that is dedicated on ensuring that the policies are practised to the full extent. Not every country has the same view when enforcement of policy is the issue. Some nations are better off than others so it is easier for them to proceed with strict enforcement but Third World countries, in order to compete in the world market, are more lenient because of the need to better establish a prosperous economy. This is a main concern among many because the problem is never fully solved but simply reallocated. This is when international policy becomes a suggested solution.
Governments need to strike a common chord with each other when it comes to environmental sustainability. It needs to be seen that if restrictions are present and enforced equally throughout all nations then the concept of conservation will be spread throughout globally. In order for this to succeed a new flow of financing and technology for environmental conservation needs to be achieved.14 Third World nations would also not feel the pressure to exploit for maximum profit if debts were alleviated and industrial countries initiated programs to provide access to technical assistance, training technology transfer, and planning grants to increase their capacity to manage environmental and energy challenges.15 Through this method it would allow nations to stand on equal ground and be able to maintain a harmony between nature and industry. This is a fantasy to be achieved for the motive of wealth is always the motivation that leads to the neglecting of policies. The proposal of a world government is an idea that could ensure that a universal policy be followed by all countries and ensure that enforcement be weighted equally among all nations.
A world government generates both relief and fear when it boils down to policy making. The relief comes that all nations are treated equally and must follow all laws that have been passed by this supreme institution. Yet, not all nations are equal even though the idea of it sounds appealing. Some nations are better off than others are so it is difficult for everyone to participate fully when some nations can achieve goals easier than others can. The main fear springs from the idea of losing identity and power. A single government representing the world of many different cultures and beliefs is very hard to imagine. Minorities might feel threatened in that they have no legitimate say in the outcomes of producing legislation. This in turn leads to the representation of governments in countries. They would feel threatened in the sense that they truly have no power since the world government would be the one in control of matters of all countries globally. So, what needs to be done is not the production of a world government but an alliance between world organisations and existing governments. Globalisation through this method does not infringe on the power of government but allows for compromise to occur and for then to understand the need for a unified co-operation to maintain the environment and resources for future enjoyment and use. In Australia for instance, the Confederation of Australian Industry and the Australian Conservation Foundation, along side with a number of state governments, agreed to endorse the National Conservation Strategy for Australia in 1986.16 This promoted the need to save the environment and ecological beauty of Australia for there was a realisation that damage to the environment would lead to damage to the economy. The concern was in tourism. The natural environment is a critically important part of tourism and is increasingly being recognised as such through the term ?Ecotourism?.17 Through globalisation and government assistance it is possible to see the importance of conservation which in turn would set precedence for other countries to follow. This was the main intention by the Australian Tourism Industry Association who argued that tourism can and does (i) enhance environmental appreciation by changing people?s attitudes; (ii) act as a justification for environmental conservation; (iii) enhance environmental management for conservation; and (iv) enrich the social and cultural environment of the Australian community.18 A global government may have a unilateral authority and may think broadly but it can not possibly reach out to everyone?s interests in the decision making.19 Mutual adjustment is the best method to solving the environmental problem by the use of global co-ordination. When this occurs it produces policies and plans that take account many positions that exist. A country?s own government needs to be aware of the essential needs of its people and must respond to the concerns of various authorities of energy, roads and highways, land use, city planning, air and rail transport, and industrial policy.20 These needs then need to co-relate with those needs presented by organisations that stand for the protection of the planets resources and environment. Governments have not lost power but need to re-learn how to distribute their influence.
Both the federal and provincial governments, at least in Canada, hold the distribution of authority over environmental policy. The municipal governments still participate even though they have been given no authority over the matter.21 But the majority of the work is achieved by organisations that press governments for swifter actions towards policy making. In Canada, the Greenpeace group, located in Vancouver and Toronto, had a revenue of 7.4 million dollars without government or corporal aid from 1987 to 1990.22 The source of revenue came from concerned individuals within the country who see the needed value of conserving the planet. In response, political parties must address these issues to ensure that the public receives the results that they desire. When the creation of the National Conservation Strategy in Australia took place both the Fraser Liberal government and the Hawke Labour government played an important role in the structure that the policy was comprised of.23
Through globalisation the world can look upon itself and see that there are better methods of approaching problems. Profit can not constantly exist if there is no planet to work from. The governments see this and pressure each other to abide by a universal understanding that there is a great need for sustainability. Powers are not decreased or removed but simply placed into a different context where instead of the individual gain the overall gain should have more precedence. Both Canada and Australia have set example that industry and environment can exist together and it is the governments duty to ensure that guidelines are set to allow enforcement take place. Globalisation can help environmental policy only if other countries have full understanding of the benefits and participate with means of improvement. The poorer nations need to be guided by the wealthy to prevent any further destruction on the remaining resources that the planet contains. Global understanding and consensus will allow for countries to maintain their distinctiveness but allow for one common trait to exist, a total appreciation of the shared home we call earth.
1. Melody Hessing and Michael Howlett, Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy: Political Economy and Public Policy (University of British Columbia Press, 1997), 243.
2. Robert Paehlke, ?Green Politics and the Rise of the Environmental Movement,? edited. Thomas Fleming, The Environment and Canadian Society (International Thomas Publishing, 1997), 270.
3. Doug Macdonald, The Politics of Pollution (McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1991), 56.
4. D. McEachern, ?Environmental Policy in Australia 1981-91: A Form of Corporatism?,? Australian Journal of Public Administration Vol. 52 No. 2, June 1993, 175.
5. Robert Paehlke, 270.
6. James Meadowcraft, ?Planning for Sustainable Development: What can be Learned From the Critics,? edited. Michael Kenning and James Meadowcraft, Planning Sustainability (Routledge, 1999), 25.
7. Ibid., 35.
9. Robert Paehlke, 271.
11. Melody Hessing, 243.
12. Robert Paehlke, 270.
14. James Gustave Speth, ?International Policies Will Conserve Global Resources,? edited. Matthew Polesetsky, Global Resources: Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1991), 239.
15. Ibid., 240.
16. D. McEachern, 175.
17. Richard Bramley, ?The Management of Natural Tourism Resources,? edited. Richard Cordew, Australian Planner Vol. 31-32 1993-95 (Royal Australian Planning Institute, 1995), 40.
19. Charles E. Lindblom, ?A Century of Planning,? edited. Michael Kenny and James Meadowcraft, Planning Sustainability (Routledge, 1999), 62.
20. Ibid., 63.
21. Doug Macdonald, 51.
22. Ibid., 44.
23. D. McEachern, 181.
Bramley, Richard. ?The Management of Natural Tourism Resources.? Edited by
Richard Cordew. Australian Planner Vol. 31-32 1993-95: (40-44). Royal Australian Planning Institute, 1995.
Hessing, Melody and Michael Howlett. Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental
Policy: Political Economy and Public Policy. University of British Columbia Press, 1997.
Lindblom, Charles E. ?A Century of Planning.? Edited by Michael Kenny and James
Meadowcraft. Planning Sustainability. Routledge, 1999.
Macdonald, Doug. The Politics of Pollution. McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1991.
McEachern, D. ?Environmental Policy in Australia 1981-91: A Form of Corporatism?,?
Australian Journal of Public Administration Vol. 52 No. 2: (173-185). 1993.
Meadowcraft, James. ?Planning for Sustainable Development: What can be Learned
From the Critics.? Edited by Michael Kenning and James Meadowcraft. Planning Sustainability. Routledge, 1999.
Paehlke, Robert. ?Green Politics and the Rise of the Environmental Movement.? Edited
by Thomas Fleming. The Environment and Canadian Society. International Thomas Publishing, 1997.
Speth, James Gustave. ?International Policies Will Conserve Global Resources.? Edited
by Matthew Polesetsky. Global Resources: Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press Inc., 1991.
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