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POL208Y1 (500)


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Political Science
Jean- Yves Haine

ENVIRONMENT - “we can’t predict the future, but we can’t ignore it” –Elizabeth Kruger - Environmental issues are extremely complex because they are at the crossroads of global politics and local, power relationships, civil society, global civil society - They triggers problems of collective actions, they trigger feelings of perceived injustice and inequality - They underline the divide between powers; state powers vs. global advocacy networks - They put into question development patterns that are embedded in our societies for more than a century, they underline the problems of “tragedy of the commons” - The complexity of the problem is obvious, assuming that the climate change report is recognized fact, but that was not the case 10 years ago, Bush admin did not believe in climate change at all, significant portion of domestic politics do not really believe climate change is an issue in Canada...problem of accepting that climate change is a challenge for everyone, recognition of the problem does not lead to equivalent recognition to its solution, or does it lead to a consensus where a framework would be most adequate, i.e. global agreement under UN umbrella will it be international treaties among the big players (china, India, us, Russia, Europe) or will it be a convergence of national policies? - Today, it is about what is the right framework o Kyoto protocol was a step forward will end in 2012, after that date we need to find a way of putting a price on carbon emission, but now there is no obvious solution/way to do so - National policies that are suppose to tackle problem can in fact make it worst o E.g. bio-fuel, subsidies for these kinds of product has been massive, the substitution of traditional agriculture to bio –food product has triggered the food price rise esp. for developing food price has never been higher, the bio fuel solutions puts pressure into environmental landscapes, it does trigger environmental degradation, the problem is if you don’t put pressure on environmental policies, you can make it worst...not a coincidence that the only global agreement is about limiting the rise in temperature; everyone agrees that we should avoid the worst case scenario which is rise of global temperature above 2 degrees, we agree on a target, but the way to get there is left for national policies - The complexity of the problem is increased by the simple fact that environmental issues is that it leads to winners and losers o E.g. difference b/t Denmark vs. Maldives, any rise in Maldives will trigger the existence of these islands, before summit in Copenhagen organized government meeting under water with the aim of triggering the future of the Maldives, because it can cease to exist, here climate change is a existential threat, failure of Copenhagen government in Maldives started to buy land elsewhere. Sweden/Denmark have everything to gain from climate change, if Greenland becomes warmer then you can cultivate that vast area, all the island in Sweden and around Stockholm are rising, so the threat of ocean level rises is not the same. The point is there are winners and losers, which is a major problem, therefore the incentive to find a solution is vastly different - Asymmetry in vulnerabilities joined by asymmetry by responsibilities, undeniable the developed nations carry a bigger burden for green house gas emissions than the developing world, in many way the culprit lies in the north than in the south, extremely difficult to ask developing countries to undertake the same level of effort while the actual contribution to the problem is minimal - Taking into account the record of the last century, than the north is mainly responsible, have to find a balance b/t responsibility for past behaviour and the consciousness of a common future and that balance is difficult to find - The climate change issue is a long-term problem, we are talking about decades not days, there are plenty of doomsday scenarios for climate change, either slow motion/evolution or abrupt deterioration...that long term prospect trigger difficulties to find solutions, because long-term aspects of that issue is not incentive for immediate action - Politicians have a different clock, their clock is about being elected, their time framework is 4-5 years, bureaucracies tend to do what they have done yesterday it favours inaction/incrementalism (since it’s a long term problem) and just do things as usual, - markets do not respond very well to long-term issues, difference in price of oil is triggered by sudden effects rather than taking into account in long-term process , markets aren’t good at thinking long term - human beings are not fitted to think beyond their life-time experience, our brain can’t compute easily problems that other generations will encounter - this long-term aspect of environmental issues make them more complex to tackle - another aspect is the nature of the explanations of climate change - Climate change prospects, its case rest on very complex statistical projections, we have models that are very complex to understand and are disputed...the scientific community may have disagreements on the actual impact b/t co2 emissions and climate change, o these models encounter problems of linear projections, tend to project current data into long term, but that is usually not the case; there are changes, e.g. major cities started to have huge populations, problem of horse poop because that was the main source of transportation and there was no way for a solution, in 1892 there were doomsday scenario, 15 years later the problem was solved because of the invention of the streetcar o tend to understate the effect of technology that may indeed solve the problem - it triggers problem of global governances, the planet isn’t ready to undertake the necessary institutional changes to tackle the problem, the confrontation it b/t a world of states vs. human population o this difficult encounter has led to national approaches rather than global solutions - the complexity is very high HISTORY OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES - underlines the unfulfilled premise of sustainable development - most important stepping stone of environmental issues into international agenda, it has been successful and could lead to climate change development; Montreal Protocol on Ozone Regime (ban on CFC) - Montreal Protocol on Ozone Regime o Started with some scientific evidence that use of CFC was causing the ozone holes and was triggering significant health risk, i.e. skin cancer o The business/corporation were using and producing CFC, the first reaction against that scientific evidence was (chairman of DuPont, main producer of CFC) “this is rubbish”, they are defending their activity, and denying scientific evidence on the use of CFC, but scientific evidence started increase, and showed that the link b/t CFC and hole in ozone layer was undeniable o After campaign to underline this effect national political authorities started to take measures, most notably in the USA, the us government forced government forced corporations to change operations and find new technology/alternative ways to replace CFC production o After some national policies, it moved to international level, which led to Montreal Protocol which was a huge success, it took 15 years, the discrepancies b/t north and south was exactly the same as today for climate change, so developing countries receive financial aids and a period of grace to deface CFC use overall however, the management of CFC issue was successful, the hole in the ozone layer has mostly disappeared o It shows the solutions ARE achievable, we can make a difference when there is agreement on the global level, the sustainable development saga is being littered with reports dealing w/ environmental issues, amongst these reports the most important one was the Brentlin Report called All Common Future, it was an attempt to combine inequality of development of the world with environmental issues, the message was how model of development is not only unjust (80% of natural resources used by 20% of world pop.) it is also unsustainable, we will need capacity 2 – 3 earths if we continue the same pace of development; fairness b/t rich and poor, fairness b/t generation was main message, led to agenda 21 - 16 of the most polluted cities is in China, china is very conscious of that problem, they have invest a lot of money in solving this problem - In 1900 per capita use of water globally was 350 cubic meters, century later, it is 640 cubic metres, in 2000 half a billion ppl lived in countries where there were chronically shortage of water, it is predicted that 75% of global population will face shortage of fresh water, agriculture account for 70% of water use...subsidies of agriculture is a problem, - Climate change problems, can affect infestations/diseases...malaria spreading because of change of temperature which allowed it to spread easier, - higher temperature + shifting/growing seasons+different rain force power will change the way agriculture is done, can interact w/ increased air pollution to further decline crop developbility, - Changes in water availability can drastically modify rainfall, and river flows, some regions depend heavily on these flows and patters, e.g. Nile, monsoon on water. Melting of glaciers will develop flooding, and after they melt there will be scarcity of water. Rising co2 will increase acidity of surface water of ocean, it could risk the life cycle of the ocean from plantum production to fisheries, impact on human can be profound - Core of the problem is the emergence of environmental issues @ international political level, disasters tend to raise significantly the awareness of the problem, the irony is that these disasters most of the time are man-made rather than consequences of climate change, the disaster will happen in slow-motion ,which is the major problem - First concept “tragedy of the common”; core of the concept is that collective goals have 2 charactersitcs; non rival and non exlucisve, o Non rivalry means quantity of the good does not diminish with individual conception, the amount of air I breath do not diminish the amount of oxygen available to you, o the inescapable consequences of these two characteristic means that what you have is free-riding, it is rational to enjoy the benefits of the good while rolling the costs onto others, the logic of collective action leads to the opposite envisoned by adam smith, where individualistic calculation and rational will have collectively disastrous consequences, he was convinced that it will lead to an optimal w/ collective goods is opposite, we end up with disastrous consequences of collective o when benefits are precise, costs diffuse you will have the tragedy of the common o there are 2 ways to address that problem, 1) privatization, because you keep in line the cost w/ the use, 2) governing body where we allocate resources, but of course we don’t have that on the international level, we could have that on national elvel but on internaitnal level it is impossible thats why you can try to regulate fish production and fishery activity in your own national water but difficult to do sin international water o explains why it is iddifulct to find a collective action, because the nature of the issue is a matter of collective goods(goals?) - 2) securitization of environmental issues, many states around the world have decided that the environment is in fact a security matter, it is a security issue, climate change is perceived as a threat to their security, countries like Australia/UK have enlisted in their list of security threats the problem of climate change, but there are diverse consequences of that kind of agenda, it is in deed a good thing to have a issue of climate change very high in a security agenda because it increase salience of the issue for your domestic public, by doing that and transforming is into a security issue you help to aware consciousness of teh problem among your population, but there are downsides. One of them is it nationalizes the problem, it becomes a matter of national security the solution become a national policy and international issue nd disappeares, 2 downside is swallows the traditional security apparatus, it is not clear that the pentagon have enough expertise to tackle environment problems, by transforming climating change into issue of security you put in charge p
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