Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Emerging International Draft to Reduce Global Warming

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, national representatives pressed the need for a international pact to fight global warming. After two decades of the United Nations attempting to introduce another global deal regarding climate change, the Lima draft is finally emerging, to be negotiated at the Paris conference next year (UN News Centre). 

All participating nations would set their own goals for reducing emissions, a very broad component to the draft and the main reason that they are agreeing to the deal. At the same time, this can also be seen as its "main shortcoming," as a number of countries believe that the treaty is a futile effort, that it will not make a enough of a difference to significantly affect global warming (New York Times). China cites a different reason, saying that "developing economies should not be required to commit to any cuts," a specification that was part of the Kyoto Protocol. However, it seems that it is not heading in the direction of the Kyoto Protocol, as supporting nations approve of the new constituent that allows each country to develop their own financial and environmental plans, and want to make the treaty legally binding.

I'm glad that the UN and nations are working on establishing another international pact to alleviate global warming, but based on the current information, I don't think that it will be strong enough to make a significant reduction in emissions. Because nations will set their own standards, I see it more as a foundation that will (hopefully) encourage more effort in fighting global warming in the future. 

Questions:
Based on how the deal is unfolding so far, do you think that its proponents are pushing for features that are unnecessarily strict? 
Are there any incentives that participating countries could provide to motivate other nations to join? 

Realistically, how much of an impact will this treaty have on climate change? Would it affect people's mindsets in any way, even after it expires? 

8 comments:

John Graham said...

I think it awesome that the UN is once again debating climate change and possible solutions to reduce the carbon footprint. However, one statistic that I find frightening is the number of Americans that don't believe global warming is caused by humans. In the November of 2013, 23% of Americans said global warming is "not happening", a 7% increase from just April 2013. Quite frankly, that number should be going down, not up. (environment.yale.edu). That is a significant proportion of Americans, who I believe to be relatively well educated compared to many other nations, that deny human involvement in global warming. I know this article isn't about global warming itself, but I think it is important to observe that a significant number of people simply don't believe climate change is real or don't know what it is.

How can countries set their own laws to cut climate change if the voter constituencies don't understand the far reaching effects of global warming or are oblivious to its very existence. I think the UN is justified for being so strict, after all, we all live on the same planet, we as global citizens should all be responsible for protecting Earth from irreparable damage.

Lindsay Block said...

I agree with your take on this story Karen in the sense that it has a two-sided interpretation. I do understand that this effort will not make enough of a difference, and think that John's argument that the basic idea of global warming needs to be understood, which can then be used to strengthen the program. Even so, I think the draft/plan as a whole is a great first step, and is even better with the fact that many countries have agreed to participate. With increased awareness, more support internationally will hopefully prompt such countries that might have weaker plans now to increase their support. I do not think that proponents are being too strict, as they want this plan to pass, but I agree with Karen that the immediate change will be significant. The fact that the US previously has not issued a statement at a UN meeting saying that we were working on changing our polluting ways, but instead asking other countries to do so, is very disappointing, though understandable due to John's above information. I hope that this draft will change climate policy in many nations, including the US.

Catherine van Blommestein said...

I agree with John that this is a global issue and that as a global community; everyone must work together to fight climate change. However, I do not think that this new UN plan is enough. By allowing each country to come up with their own plan, the plans will differ in degree of reducing emissions. Some countries will really try to work on reducing emissions, but other countries, such as China may not. This is a problem. Countries like China that are undergoing an industrial revolution need to comply to strict regulations even more because of the immensity of emissions it is producing. Countries with developing economies (ex: China) that are under the pressure of producing products for the rest of the world are not going to voluntarily cut emissions. It is also up to the people demanding these products to work with China to produce their products in an environmentally sustainable way. The companies hiring China’s manufacturing facilities need to demand that their products are made in a responsible manner. If not all countries equally try to significantly reduce their omissions the effort to cut emission will not be successful.

Victoria King said...

I agree with Catherine for the most part in that this plan is flawed in some aspects and can definitely be improved, but I wouldn’t say that the effort to reduce emissions would be unsuccessful. I believe any reductions in emissions are greatly needed at this point, and this plan is great encouragement for all nations to participate in the effort to slow down global warming. Asking or demanding for drastic changes would definitely put off some countries from contributing to the effort, so the idea that “‘each according to their abilities’ approach is less than perfect — but that it represents what is achievable” (New York Times) sounds more appealing. Since this plan is just getting started, what has been drafted so far is a good first step for change and a clear indication that the nations involved are serious about protecting the earth for future generations. Hopefully the draft continues to be tweaked so that all participating nations can find their own viable ways of making a significant impact in reducing global warming.

Jeremiah Rondeau said...

In response to the comments, all we know about "climate change" is that all things remaining equal more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere equals higher temperatures. That phrase destroys practical meaning in environmental science even better than it does in economics. Temperature projections from the enlightened have not aligned with actual data as of late, giving the American public a solid reason to doubt these new predictions.

Could this scare be completely legitimate? Of course. But this entire attitude that skepticism should be looked down upon is incredibly unhealthy. The burden of proof is on those who want to impose crippling restrictions on the world economy, including the economies of developing nations. You folks owe them an answer, not the other way around.

In response to Karen's question, I don't know what would be considered "strict" about the resolution-- it seems entirely symbolic in nature as countries are called to set their own standards. Without America or China on-board in any sort of meaningful way (which they won't be), this is going nowhere fast.

Elena E said...

As people before me stated, this effort will most likely not cause significant enough change to really help the issue. China's leaders are clearly against the UN's measures, and evidently refuse to reduce their emissions. Though humans have inflicted major harm on the environment, other factors have lead to the deterioration of this planet. For example, though it is common belief that humans have caused the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, the blame doesn't solely rest with us. Events in space weather such as solar flares, storms, and other such occurrences. Because of this, fixing the problem would be very difficult, as obviously, space weather is very much out of human control. Although I'm sure Jeremiah's skepticism is founded on evidence, (even I am a little skeptic of the phrase "global warming" solely because I have little knowledge of this phenomenon itself,) one cannot deny that humans have definitly impacted the ecosystems of this planet negatively. This fact is real and tangible and easily confirmed. One can see it in the less-than-clear air of Los Angeles, Beijing schools closing from smog, or sick and dying animals in the Gulf of Mexico. If human activity causes these problems, how can one say that it does not, may not cause even more on a larger scale?

William Miyahira said...

I'm not quite sure how much of an effect this new plan will have on the reduction of carbon emmisions into our atmosphere. With countries able to set their own standards, we could see a variety in these standards, where there would be some who are making a larger effort than others to cut emmissions. I do see this as a good first step to raise some greater awareness of this phenomenon, and possibly get people to think about some other ways to reduce their contribution to "global warming." I don't believe that there will be a world-wide revolution regarding the idea of cutting emmissions, but perhaps this new draft/plan will be a stepping stone.

Brian Yee said...

I definitely agree with Catherine about about how the plans will differ in degree. However, what I'm concerned about is how each country decides to set its own standards. China, for example, might set its standards very low but can still say that its country is still trying to reduce its emissions. I also believe that this is a great step to spreading awareness of the issue. However, while climate change is affecting our lives everyday, the public won't be eager to reduce emissions until it affects them to the extent that they actually begin to notice. While the article detailed how the plan is "less than perfect," I do feel that all if not most nations can set a minimal standard. This pact is a great foundation to encouraging nations to alleviate global warming, and I don't believe it's strict at all. In fact, I see it as more of a necessary step to take in preserving our environment. As John mentioned, we're all responsible for protecting Earth. In terms of incentives, I think that green taxes, excise taxes on pollutants or goods, would reduce emissions and encourage organizations to seek more environmentally friendly alternatives to producing their products. It may not be the best option at this point in time, but I believe that it'll encourage countries to preserve the environment. In addition, the revenues accumulated from these green taxes could be lessen other taxes or even help fund projects that try to preserve the environment.