From Precaution to Profit


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Contemporary Challenges to Environmental Protection in the Montreal Protocol

Brian J. Gareau

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Why, when global environmental protection efforts have never been more important, is the world’s most widely acclaimed environmental agreement failing?  

The Montreal Protocol has been cited as the most successful global environmental agreement, responsible for phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances. But, says Brian Gareau in this provocative and engaging book, the Montreal Protocol has failed—largely because of neoliberal ideals involving economic protectionism but also due to the protection of the legitimacy of certain forms of scientific knowledge. Gareau traces the rise of a new form of disagreement among global powers, members of the scientific community, civil society, and agro-industry groups, leaving them relatively ineffective in their efforts to push for environmental protection.


Brian J. Gareau is associate professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College. He lives in Concord, MA.
"Excellent. . . will spur a flurry of much-needed debate and scholarship."—Michael Goldman, author of Imperial Nature

From Precaution to Profit makes great strides in better understanding the intertwined issues of political economy, global environmental issues, and contested societal responses…. The documentation and readable storytelling actually puts this among the most insightful writings I’ve read on ozone politics since Richard Benedick’s 1998 Ozone Diplomacy.”—Max Boykoff, University of Colorado

"If you thought that the Montreal Protocol stands as a beacon of hope for future intergovernmental cooperation to tackle environmental problems, then you need to think again. By looking beyond the early success of the Protocol, Brian Gareau shows how profit-hungry agro-foods companies have sought to place their private interests above those of the public and the non-human world. The Protocol, it turns out, has been subject to the same neoliberal mindset that has so far compromised attempts to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. If this mindset can’t be broken soon, then the environmental future looks very bleak indeed."—Noel Castree, Manchester University

"This extraordinary story of California strawberry growers and neo-liberalism holding the crucial Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion to ransom simply must be read by anyone concerned about the global environment."—Simon Dalby, CIGI Chair in the Political Economy of Climate Change, Balsillie School of International Affairs
“A lesser author would have concluded with unqualified pessimism. To his credit, Gareau uses his analysis as an opportunity to explore lessons and possible solutions. This is an extremely important book.” —Choice
From Precaution to Profit makes it clear that nation-states are the decisive actors, and that global institutions have limited power to coerce the most powerful national governments. Gareau has helpfully specified the ways that neoliberalization is undermining global environmental governance.”—Daniel Aldana Cohen, Journal of World-Systems Research
“Brian Gareau’s insightful From Precaution to Profit dives deep into a cav­ernous hole in what is widely considered to be the most successful inter­national environmental treaty in history."—Social Forces

From Precaution to Profit is an outstanding book that makes an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of global environmental governance. Gareau’s work should be widely read by both environmental sociologists and those interested in global and transnational processes.”—American Journal of Sociology

"[This] book would make an excellent contribution to graduate courses in environmental sociology, the sociology of knowledge, or the sociology of globalization. The story Gareau weaves may not be as delicious as the strawberries on the book's cover—but, as my mother would say, we should eat (well, read) it because it's good for us."—Wesley Longhofer, Social Forces
Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the International Relations Category.
ISBN: 9780300213157
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
384 pages, 5 1/8 x 8
6 b/w illus.
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