A decade of climate change negotiations almost ended in failure because of the different policy approaches of the industrialized states. Japan, Germany, and the United States exemplify the deep divisions that exist among states in their approaches to environmental protection. Germany is following what could be called the green social welfare state approach to environmental protection, which is increasingly guided by what is known as the precautionary principle. In contrast, the US is increasingly leaning away from the use of environmental regulations, towards the use of market-based mechanisms to control pollution and cost-benefit analysis to determine when environmental protection should take precedence over economic activities. Internal political divisions mean that Japan sits uneasily between these two approaches. Miranda A. Schreurs uses a variety of case studies to explore why these different policy approaches emerged and what their implications are, examining the differing ideas, actors, and institutions in each state.