It has long been recognized that environmental concerns transcend borders. As a result, they pose problems, the solution of which requires new forms of cooperation beyond the conception of international politics as structured by the interests of nation-states. Today, such cooperation has to be sought in the context of emerging global governance. This article traces differing conceptions of the political nature of global governance in the context of the debate over the trade-environment link. This link is being constructed for the global level at the WTO, and contested either with reformist intent or in more radical terms by environ-mentalists. Following an exposition of the genesis of the trade-environment link and of the different conceptions of it held by proponents of the free trade agenda and environmentalists, the article concludes by arguing for a more sustained appreciation of the issues raised by the radical critics.