tives to protect the environment. For example, the United States in 1990 adopted the Pollution Prevention Act (42 U.S.C. °13101 (a)(3)), which explicitly recognizes that

There are significant opportunities for industry to reduce or prevent pollution at the source through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. Such changes offer industry substantial savings in reduced raw material, pollution control, and liability costs as well as help protect the environment and reduce risks to worker health and safety.

The act also recognizes that current environmental laws often impede cleaner production and consumption practices. To remedy this, the act declares a national policy to eliminate these disincentives and, to the greatest extent feasible, provide incentives for the wider acceptance of pollution prevention techniques for environmental protection. Similarly, the new German auto initiative sets standards for reuse and recycling of used automobiles. Domestic laws such as these seek to internalize environmental costs in decision making and to encourage consideration of the environmental impacts of resource use.


The vast majority of international environmental law focuses on pollution abatement, remediation, and compensation for the harms stemming from environmentally hazardous activities. In essence, the international system of environmental law has adopted the traditional command-and-control approach to environmental regulation entrenched in the domestic environmental laws of most nations. Because the international legal system traditionally lags behind developments in the domestic laws of the respective nations, the movement toward preventing environmental harm remains on the distant horizon of international law. Of course, the relative rate at which pollution prevention and cleaner production concepts are incorporated into international law will largely depend on both the rate at which these concepts receive wider incorporation into the domestic laws of nation-states and the wealth of exogenous factors that shape international affairs and law generally. This lack of attention to elements of improving the environmental characteristics of industrial ecosystems—encouraging pollution prevention, reuse of resources, and the systems aspects of cleaner production—in current international environmental law is troubling in at least two respects.

First, with the increasing globalization of economic development at the regional and multilateral level—with the increasing emphasis on free trade and free trade agreements—there is increasing demand for international environmental agreements. As the field of international environmental law continues to grow, it will play a major role in determining how environmental protection priorities are developed. It is therefore important to ensure that developments in international environmental law shift to providing incentives for systemwide reduction of pol-

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