2013-03-19 Climate change.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2137
Cameron Harrington

Climate change: The Politics and the Policies March 19, 2013 Global warming may be the most significant challenge humanity has ever faced What are we doing about it? st -we have made incredible technological advancements in the 21 century -we have alleviated poverty for many people -more and more people being lifted off bottom rung of society -on the aggregate: this is a good thing; we want to see people -sign of success -but these successes come with environmental impacts -we are changing the world, literally and materially -we are changing the atmosphere, oceans, millions of species in the Earth (biodiversity) -doing so, we are endangering our own life support systems -on one hand, we have incredible advancements but on other hand, we are destroying ourselves and our environment -carbon emissions seem to be going up -most people reach this conclusion that never before humanity has faced this challenge of pushing development but on the other hand, we’re pushing towards a collapse of nature -with every challenge, it comes opportunity -a lot of policies and programsmaybe optimistic? -situation is difficult, and hopeless -everything we do in society runs on energy -e.g. car, heat homes -in the process, we are releasing carbon emissions -the impact was a lot less significant when the world had 10 million people -today, we have 7 billion people on Earth today -by the end of this century, we will have 10 billion -what can we do to stem the problem? -biggest solution (something that’s instilled): Kyoto Protocol -Kyoto is an important step of mitigating effects of climate change -Kyoto caps emissions and limits amount of emissions each country could produce -it created carbon market: provides incentives for countries to trade carbon, emissions -use economic approach to solve problem -other aspect that dealt with this was: fairness, equity -justice is central -some countries bear greater burden/responsibility than others; this is acknowledged in the beginning -one way Kyoto acknowledges justice is the creation of clean development mechanism: has potential to reduce emissions and transfer technology and expertise to developing countries (boost wealth and boost sustainability) -Kyoto: massive; historic -took a lot of years to negotiate (20 years) -expired in December 2012 -we should be seeing in 2013 the very first step, but there’s a long way to go -Kyoto expired, but framework still remain -2015: that’s when next Kyoto is created and signed -won’t officially get off ground in 2020, but 2015 is when it emerges -everyone envisions that it’s going to be different from 1997 Kyoto -developing countries would be included -poverty being alleviated across the globe; not going to see India and China considered as developing countries and get free-ride -it’s a concern for developed countries, mainly US -one reason US didn’t ratify was because it sees competitors free-riding -18 years of continued and accelerated climate change between 1997 to 2015 -vast, increased knowledge about state of change and pace of climate change -video: -140 years rate of change -all of these regions of world are experiencing higher than average temperatures -one small indication of type of knowledge we have now that how important it is to find something to combat climate change Current State of Climate Change  2010: Hottest year on record  Kyoto: far from perfect, but a good beginning?  Climate change: Caused by industrial development and consumption lifestyle. Everything is made through energy, primarily energy from burning fossil fuels.  Is it possible to change the “energy infrastructure”?  What are the opportunities from climate change?  Stern Report -previous highest year of hottest year was 2008 -2012: one of the top 10 warmest years on record -past 36 years: every single year was warmer than average globally -important approach: Kyoto -it’s not perfect but it did succeed getting countries to step up and cooperate and talk about it -it’s really just the beginning -a lot of scientists believe that Kyoto is not going to amount much if it’s implemented – won’t really go back down to where we should be -proponents of Kyoto: try to remain optimistic -good beginning, good start -climate change is related to past 200 years of industrial development – one that’s accelerated since WWII and all of this development is spurned by burning of fossil fuelprovide energy to economy; what everything runs on -whole global economy built around the idea of cheap energy -87% energy used today brought by the burning of fossil fuels – huge number -regulating and combat fossil fuels – it will have a direct impact on global economy -big change, but it has to be a big change because we’re talking about the world -everything we experience now is going to get worse and in an accelerated rate (super storms, huge droughts, wild fires, glaciers melting, etc.) -140,000 people die each year from climate-related incidents -5 million people become ill every year from climate-related causes (drinking war, not having sufficient food, shelter, etc.) -WHO: $2.4 billion is added every single year to bear costs of climate change -but, the continued demand of fossil fuel is continuing – still the engine of development -vast majority of development built around fossil fuels -China building one plant every single week -average US consumer uses more energy than ever before, despite advances we made with energy efficiency and costs, etc. -world needs an energy revolution – needs complete change of world’s energy deconstruction: cost $43 trillion -won’t happen at all; not realistic -Stern Report: Nicholas Stern from UK -state costs of non-action by 2050 -produced economic analysis on climate change -we need to devote small percentage of our GDP otherwise we will have much bigger problems -climate change will take away 3-4% GDP if we do nothing -if we devote 1%, we should we able to mitigate some effects -from economic point of view: it makes sense to do something about climate change based on costs and benefits Managing Climate Change  Divide between rich and poor countries  Rich countries account for 60% of total emissions. Have 20% of global population  Hypocritical to deny similar forms of development for industrializing countries?  But…developing countries do not emit enough to resolve the problem by themselves.  The issue of fairness and justice is central here -who should reduce the emissions? Rich countries? Poor countries? Combination of both? -rich countries by far the most dominant and heavily rely on fossil fuels -20% global population and accounts for 60% of total emissions -emissions could be lowered – but we should also give rights for developed countries -it’s not just our countries and economies held back in same standards as yours; to be denied the right to development -is it ethical to ask developing countries to sacrifice development opportunities to atone our actions? -“we should start re-thinking how we understand development” can come across as paternalistic of colonial -is it ethical to ask developing countries to change their ways of developing? -sacrifices have to be made for the greater good -but will they accept this? -beyond this, on a whole, developing countries produce a minuscule proportion of emissions -they don’t admit to making enough difference -around 40% of emissions are made by developing countries -Africa: generates about 3% of world’s GHG emissions -South America: about 3% of GHG emissions -even if every man, woman, and child across developing world (5 billion people in the world) stopped emitting completely, it wouldn’t make a difference (won’t make a dent; won’t have an effect on climate change) -some experts say we need to reduce emissions by 60-80% -only possible way to decrease emissions on big enough scale is to attack developed countries economies -5 billion people in developing countries stop using energy –-need to focus on developed nations and their emissions -this all comes down to the idea of fairness and justice -we are using far more carbon than people from developing countries -there’s a metric used by World Bank: per capita emissions -for low-income countries: per capita emissions was about 0.9 metric tonnes -middle-income countries: 4 metric tonnes -high-income countries: 13 metric tonnes -Canada produces 15.2 metric tonnes per capita of emissions -US: 17.3 metric tonnes -highest: 44 metric tonnes per capita Qatar in the Middle East -because of the oil -China: 5.8 metric tonnes -there’s disproportionate level of emissions when we take population in account -should developed countries take the lead and should they be held the most responsible? Should countries that have more of the shared responsibility be expected to take more of the burdens? -Kyoto: answered Yes -developed countries do have greater share of responsibility and have to absorb more burden -developing countries completely exempt from emission cuts -whether it is sustainable going forward? -if the idea is that developing countries should pursue economic development (it’s the inherent right of every country) we would have a big problem in our hands in the next 2 to 3 decades if it’s successful -it’s not going to solve the problem; it would exacerbate the problem of climate change -trade-off: if we don’t allow it to happen, it would be double-standards -we see how difficult and nuanced these issues are when it comes to negotiating climate change agreements -we see Kyoto is so complex, important, and wrapped up in politics in general Kyoto and the Problem of Free Riding  No country has incentive to reduce emissions alone  An international climate treaty gives assurances, more bang for the buck  Then why have so many countries rejected it? Canada (pulled out), US (never ratified),Australia (ratified in 2007)  Free riding: the one country that does not cooperate can reap the benefits without the sacrifices. Arational strategy  Kyoto attempts to overcome free riding -by far the most important environmental agreement -hasn’t been successful, but it’s the best one we’ve got -we know a new global agreement is absolutely pivotal – we need to cover emissions -how do we get there? -main problem getting there is free riding -free-riding: no country has the incentive to reduce emissions because they themselves cannot prevent climate change -to overcome the problem, you need majority of countries to agree and abide by the books -no incentive for individual country to cut emissions on its own – this should echo the tragedy of the commons -to make it worthwhile, countries coordinate large global effort to have potential to stop climate change (International Climate Treaty – can give countries assurances that their cuts won’t be in vein – all other countries have to do the same) -emission reductions are costly – require significant cuts -it socializes the costs across the country and the world -if this ICT can overcome the disincentive to act – why has it been so problematic to implement? -one reason US didn’t ratify/Canada pulled out: relates to the idea of free-riding -climate change treaties helps solve problem of climate change – damages of climate change going to be significant -no country can curb emissions on their own; all countries benefit if they all sign up -there’s this third option: I won’t do anything, somebody else do it and I reap all the benefits -you can have it all -if you have all countries except one cooperating to avert climate change, one country benefits from everyone else – don’t have to sacrifice anything -it’s a rational decision to pursue, even though it is criticized as immoral, given incentives that exist; makes sense for countries to free-ride -countries can free-ride by opting out or not signing it or trying to few emission reduction policies as possible -if every country free-rides = we’re screwed -difficult to get collective action -Kyoto tried to build something that tried to combat that -it assigns a role for every single country, that every country has specific reduction emission goals they have to hit -problem: Kyoto can’t force countries to honour their commitments -problem with international governance and international law -US walked away in 2001, nothing happens – no material repercussions -look bad, but no repercussions -when Canada pulls out in 2011, nothing happens -shows limits of international laws and international agreements -most countries are still on board How to Price the Future  Cost/benefit analysis is difficult to achieve with climate change  Costs can be counted, but benefits are priceless,
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