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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Questions about how environmental decisions are made and who makes them – that is, questions of environmental governance – lie at the heart of environmental law and policy. This article focuses on one important aspect of governance, namely, the allocation of authority over environmental issues among different levels of governance. The fundamental question is which political community should govern which environmental issues, and, more specifically, when should responsibility over particular environmental issues be vested at the local, national, regional, or global level? This article briefly reviews the trends that are moving towards more centralised environmental governance and describes some of the factors explaining this trend. It examines presumption against centralisation and considers approaches that favour centralization, including externalities; approaches related to game theory; regulatory competition; public choice; and polycentric governance. The article also discusses analytic inquiries that can advance current debates over environmental governance.

Keywords: environmental governance, authority, environmental issues, centralisation, externalities, game theory, regulatory competition, public choice, polycentric governance, environmental law

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