Environmental Policies in Their Cultural and Historical Contexts

Scholars working within the fi eld of comparative environmental policy have regularly noted the disparity in how different countries react to ecological threats. The 1986 Chernobyl accident, a catastrophe that spread measurable amounts of radioactivity across a broad stretch of northern Europe, provides a particularly poignant illustration of the ways in which predominant public responses to environmental risk can vary. During the months following the incident, a number of commentators quipped that the ill-effects of atmospheric dispersal oddly seemed to stop at the German-French border. These remarks were motivated by the sardonic observation that while Germans typically refused to eat locally-grown vegetables during the months following the incident, their French neighbours evidenced no similar vigilance.

On a broader scale, we have witnessed over the past decade cross-national variation in the form of Dutch environmental advocates cooperating with industry in a way hardly imaginable in Germany, British eco-warriors burrowing themselves into underground bunkers to obstruct the construction of new roads, and American communities aggressively protesting the construction of hazardous waste incinerators. These multifarious forms of agitation around environmental concerns invariably lead to very different political responses and policy outcomes.


European Union Environmental Policy National Character Global Environmental Change Environmental Knowledge 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Policy and Sustainability at the New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA

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