NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

PERC Study: The Greening Of Foreign Policy

January 4, 2001

Environmental groups are increasingly pressuring domestic and international agencies to give environmental concerns greater weight.

In the United States, both the State Department and the Department of Defense have changed their operations and revised their budgets to give politically favored environmental issues higher priority.

  • This shift in emphasis has led the Department of Defense to divert some of its budget from defending the country to defending nature -- the department's spending on environmental programs such as the conservation of resources on military bases and environmental research jumped from $250 million to $5 billion between 1984 and 1994.
  • The president's authority to speed trade agreements and the mission of the U.S. Agency for International Development have both been redirected in the name of the environment.
  • The International Criminal Court, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund now boast environmental goals, and efforts to modify trade agreements to protect nature are increasing.
  • Almost every agency of the United Nations (U.N.) touts the ways it is advancing its supposed environmental agenda.
  • The U.N. is responsible for managing a host of multilateral environmental conventions and protocols.

All these changes represent a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy and international relations. The rise of international environmentalism poses grave dangers for the conduct of foreign policy, while at the same time shortchanging long-run environmental protection in favor of currently popular "green" causes.

Source: Terry L. Anderson and J. Bishop Grewell, "The Greening of Foreign Policy," Policy Study No. 20, December 2000, Political Economy Research Center, 502 South 19th Avenue, Suite 211, Bozeman, Mt. 59718, (406) 587-9591.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues