9:49 a.m., March 10, 2009----Climate change policies are among the most complex and challenging global issues facing the world today, involving not only developing and developed countries and regions but transnational corporations.
Yda Schreuder, associate professor of geography and senior policy fellow in the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, has written a timely book on the topic, The Corporate Greenhouse: Climate Change Policy in a Globalizing World. The book is published by Zed Books.
Emissions have no borders, Schreuder said, and she wrote the book as a basis for discussion of the global challenges that face the world in climate change policies. The book is a history of recent efforts to address emissions control and a wake-up call to find solutions to the problems.
The book project started a decade ago as part of a course that Schreuder offers in the interdisciplinary graduate program in energy and environmental policy at the University of Delaware. In the course she engages students in a north-south debate on issues related to sustainable development and social justice.
She said she is grateful to have the opportunity to work with some highly motivated students and colleagues in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy on climate change policy issues, adding that this experience was the main inspiration to write the book.
The book has received kudos from various experts in the field.
William F. Laurance, senior research scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, wrote, “I recommend it highly: it is vital, insightful reading for anyone interested in carbon trading, climate mitigation, international relations and the pervasive role of mega-corporations in our world today.”
Andy Gouldson, co-director of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, wrote, “What a timely book...the text highlights the ambiguous roles corporations are playing” in climate change agreements and how “corporations could play a much more active role in the search for solutions.”
Environmental journalist Casper Henderson wrote, “This book offers valuable insights into what has gone wrong with climate policy in the past and where solutions may lie.”
In the book, Schreuder examines the European Union's 'go-it-alone' policy on climate change and emission control, the Kyoto Protocol, the roles of the United States, China and India and the effects on the environment by transnational companies.
There are serious hurdles to overcome between developed and developing countries, according to Schreuder. The first step is for the United States to come on board on emission controls, which will help provide leverage with China and India and other countries and corporations, she said.
As she writes in the introduction to her book, there is now the recognition that national emissions-reduction commitments have little effect in a global economy that is driven by intense competition and organized around transnational corporations and international production networks.
Schreuder devotes a chapter to “The Transnational Corporation and the Global Economy,” and writes, “the rapid growth of multinational or transnational corporations is one of the most significant developments of the past few decades.” She points out that these companies are both consumers and producers and that “this complicates the tracking of international trade flows and the attendant material and energy flows and carbon emissions.”
She writes, “We now live in a world where corporations and business appear more powerful than governments and where commercial interests are paramount” and concludes, “As part of reaching global consensus and worldwide cooperation, global corporations will have to restructure the way they operate in developing countries and their contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions will have to be accounted for.”
Schreuder is a graduate of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, where she returned for her 2006 sabbatical to research her book. She received her doctorate in geography from the University of Wisconsin Madison and joined the UD faculty in 1982. She is a founding member of UD's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, which administers a cross-disciplinary, intercollegiate graduate program.
Article by Sue Moncure
Photo by Kathy Atkinson