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Governing the Invisible Commons: Ozone Regulation and the Montreal Protocol

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Epstein, Graham; Pérez, Irene; Schoon, Michael; Meek, Chanda L.
Conference: Commoners and the Changing Commons: Livelihoods, Environmental Security, and Shared Knowledge, the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Mt. Fuji, Japan
Conf. Date: June 3-7
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9076
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): social-ecological systems
common pool resources--theory
ozone layer
Montreal Protocol
Abstract: "The Montreal Protocol is generally credited as a successful example of international cooperation in response to a global environmental problem. As a result, the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances has declined rapidly, and it is expected that atmospheric ozone concentrations will return to their normal ranges toward the end of this century. To explore the Montreal Protocol, this paper expands on the commons literature, which focuses mostly on small-scale appropriation problems and applies a similar logic to the matter of large-scale, in this case global, externalities of production. In particular, we apply a social-ecological system framework and common-pool resource theory more broadly to the governance of transboundary pollution. The paper shows how the social and environmental settings that surrounded negotiation of the ozone-depletion problem were particularly conducive to a successful agreement, including a larger set of variables than those previously reported. Our results concur with past studies that focus on the importance of variables such as a limited number of producers, advances in scientific knowledge, and the availability of technological substitutes. However, by applying the social-ecological system framework, we identify other factors of importance that shifted the ozone case from an open-access tragedy to a successful example of global collective action."

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