47:5 Sharing Sustainability: Preventing International Environmental Injustice In An Age Of Regulation



According to pollution-haven hypothesizers, as environmental regulations increase in First World countries and raise costs of production, pollution-intensive industries will migrate into developing countries with less-stringent regulation. This occurrence is also known as the “race to the bottom” or “industrial flight.” The result is an ironic causal chain where developed countries’ measures on behalf of sustainability become a catalyst for the exploitation of lesser protected areas and peoples.

There is much reason to believe that environmental regulation will increase in the developed world, particularly in the United States, exacerbating the potential for industrial flight and its resultant scenarios.  Added attention to global warming and other environmental issues continue to spur the adoption of new regulations and standards that industries must adhere to.  Resultantly, businesses worry about the effect of mounting controls on their market competition.  The fear is that many corporations will move their operations overseas to countries that prioritize the benefit of economic development over the cost of environmental degradation.

While there is a heavy amount of literature on industrial flight, international environmental injustice, and redress for environmental harms, much less exists that ties these concepts together. Additionally, recent developments merit an update into the examples and obstacles of the subject.  This Comment will thus provide a comprehensive investigation of pollution havens from their originating circumstances to their resulting environmental atrocities and discuss the limitations of recovery for foreign victims, as well as potential solutions to these problems.