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Governing the Invisible Commons: Ozone Regulation and the Montreal Protocol

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Epstein, Graham; Pérez, Irene; Schoon, Michael; Meek, Chanda L.
Journal: International Journal of the Commons
Volume: 8
Page(s): 337-360
Date: 2014
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9589
Sector: Global Commons
Subject(s): air pollution
ozone layer
social-ecological systems
common pool resources--theory
collective action
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. This paper applies the social-ecological system framework and common-pool resource theory to explore the congruence between successful resolution of small-scale appropriation problems and ozone regulation, a large-scale pollution problem. The results of our analysis correspond closely to past studies of the Protocol that highlight the importance of attributes such as a limited number of major industrial producers, advances in scientific knowledge, and the availability of technological substitutes. However, in contrast to previous theoretical accounts that focus on one or a few variables, our analysis suggests that its success may have been the result of interactions between a wider range of SES attributes, many of which are associated with successful small-scale environmental governance. Although carefully noting the limitations of drawing conclusions from the analysis of a single case, our analysis reveals the potential for fruitful interplay between common-pool resource theory and large-scale pollution problems."

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