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Comparison of the role of property rights in right wing and left wing American and European environmental policy deliberations

Goldstein, Bernard D., Hudak, Juliann M.
Environmental science & policy 2017 v.68 pp. 28-34
European Union, environmental policy, landowners, politics, property rights, United States
Developing effective approaches to increasingly complex global environmental challenges requires understanding and respect for underlying policy differences within and among nations. The defense of property rights against perceived intrusion by governmental authorities has been noted as an environmental policy issue related to specific laws and regulations in the United States, and as a basis for opposition to sustainability. We assessed the extent to which the defense of property rights and opposition to sustainability has become part of mainstream US policy deliberations by evaluating its inclusion within positions of candidates for the presidential nomination of the Republican and Democratic parties and by review of party platforms. We performed a similar review of the positions and platforms of right wing. EU political parties and of positions taken on the Brexit issue. Increasing concern about property rights, including using it as a basis to oppose and overturn sustainability initiatives, was found among the US right wing. This concern was tied to rights granted in the US Constitution and concern about governmental intrusion. In contrast, interference for environmental reasons in the rights of landowners to manage their property does not appear to be a concern of the EU right wing, nor was this issue raised by supporters of Brexit. Although just one of many factors, differences in concern about property rights should be recognized as contributing to EU/US differences in environmental policy.