Does transparency have a transformative potential? In an earlier work published in Global Environmental Politics, Klaus Dingwerth and Margot Eichinger said no. They argued that the transparency sought for in and through corporate environmental reports was ‘tamed’ in several ways. Most importantly, relevant information was difficult to find and reports remained largely incomparable. In a follow-up piece to that article, the authors now scrutinize how non-commercial intermediaries (such as GoodGuide) as well as commercial intermediaries (such as IW Financial or MSCI) contribute to rendering the information contained in standardized corporate environmental reports more actionable. Their analysis shows that commercial intermediaries manage to collect and organize corporate environmental data in a way that helps at least some user groups to compare corporate environmental performance in meaningful ways. But the commercialization of transparency comes at a cost: It leaves the definition of what is ‘useful’ information to those who are willing and able to pay for such information. In a nutshell, investors benefit more from transparency than concerned citizens. For the latter, the new piece – which appears as a chapter in Aarti Gupta and Michael Mason’s newly released Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives (MIT Press, 2014) – nevertheless includes at least one important lesson: Del Monte cinnamon flavoured pear halves may look like fruits. But that does not mean they’re healthy.
With the end of the Cold War, many commentators believed a new world order to be on the rise. But what where the contours of that order? The two most prominent interpretations disagreed fundamentally on this very basic question: Some saw American hegemony or even a US empire; others a system of global governance in which myriads of overlapping spheres of authority were organised in a largely decentralised fashion. So who is right and who is wrong? In their review essay, Rainer Baumann and Klaus Dingwerth discuss both views in conjunction and come to the conclusion that world politics is in fact characterised by a concentration and a dispersion of power and authority. Curious? Subscribers to the Journal of International Relations and Development can access the full article here; others can e-mail the authors here.
Reference: Baumann, Rainer and Klaus Dingwerth (2014) ‘Global governance vs empire: Why world order moves towards heterarchy and hierarchy’ Journal of International Relations and Development advance online publication 11 July, doi:10.1057/jird.2014.6
Looking for some summer reading? Well, Darrel Moellendorf’s new and long-awaited book on The Moral Challenges of Dangerous Climate Change will soon be out with Cambridge University Press. With some of Darrel’s carefully argued ideas about the topic having appeared in an earlier piece in the journal Climatic Change, the book now provides a more complete account of how we can understand “dangerous climate change” and of what such an understanding implies in terms of our moral obligations. For those interested in the topic, the book will be launched together with two related books – Henry Shue’s Climate Justice and Dale Jamieson’s Reason in a Dark Time – at at book launch event at the Goethe University Frankfurt on Thursday, 25 June. If you thought that everything interesting has been said about climate justice – a subject on which there is certainly no shortage of book-length treatments – there’s a fair chance these books will prove you wrong.