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Sustainable Consumption Governance in the Amazon

Citation: 38 ELR 10873

Issue: 12

Author: Lesley K. McAllister

Tropical deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, estimated to contribute as much as 25% of global emissions. In Brazil, which is reported to be the fourth-largest GHG emitter, deforestation causes about 75% of all national emissions. Yet deforestation in Brazil and other countries with tropical forests has proven very difficult to control, in part because of the weakness of national legal and regulatory institutions for environmental protection. And while it is a major topic in climate change negotiations, the issue of reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries has not yet been directly addressed within international law.

In Brazil and several other developing countries, deforestation is closely linked to agricultural exports. In the Amazon, the two most important drivers of deforestation have become cattle ranching and soybean cultivation, both increasingly export-driven. While this commodity-driven paradigm threatens to accelerate deforestation as producers expand their participation in international markets, it also provides an opportunity for sustainable consumption governance. "Sustainable consumption" refers to the use of goods and services in a way that meets basic needs and improves quality of life while minimizing natural resources degradation and pollution, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations. The term "sustainable consumption governance" as used herein encompasses the diverse array of private and public activities and institutions that seek to lead market participants toward more sustainable consumption.

Lesley K. McAllister is an associate professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and an assistant adjunct professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California San Diego.

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