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CSS Essay | The Global Community has Fled Rather Than Led the Issue of Global Warming

CSS Essay | The Global Community has Fled Rather Than Led the Issue of Global Warming
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The Global Community has Fled Rather Than Led the Issue of Global Warming


ESSAY OUTLINE


1) Introduction:

Life on Earth is in decline due to global warming. Despite this realization, the global community has failed to agree and act upon a collective action plan against this grave threat. The dogmatic belief in an economic system centred around the idea of continuous growth and profit, rising populism and weakening international institutions has left the international community thinking about global warming in silos or not thinking about it at all.

2) What is global warming and how is the international community important in tackling it?

3) Why has the global community fled and not led the issue of global warming?

3.1) Distrust among the countries of the global north and south has turned the issue of global warming into a debate of historic and social justice.
Case in point: Failure of the Copenhagen climate conference.

3.2) Exceptionalism exhibited by global leaders.
Case in point: America’s walk out of the Paris Climate Accord

3.3) Global warming is not a consideration in domestic politics.
Case in point: Donald Trump’s election campaign.

3.4) Rising populism has weakened international institutions.
Case in point: Britain’s exit from the European Union.

3.5) Nature of existing economic system is competitive rather than collaborative.
Case in point: New Cold war between China and the US.

3.6) Urgency of the threat is not being felt by the global community.
Case in point: Denialist movements

3.7) Influential corporate lobbies
Case in point: Fossil fuel giant Exxon Mobil’s anti climate change research investments.

3.8) National interests take precedence over global concerns.
Case in point: Global energy security concerns.

3.9) Free rider problem; one country enjoys inaction at the expense of others.
Case in point: Australia’s mining industry.

4) How can the global community successfully lead the issue of global warming?

4.1) Collaborative action on the Paris Climate Agreement.
4.2) Transfer of green technology and scientific knowledge to the developing world.
4.3) Climate change linked development assistance.
4.4) Poverty reduction and equitable distribution of global resources.

5) Conclusion:

The international community must abandon the pursuit of selfish interests and act in collaboration to tackle global warming successfully. Global leaders should proactively take lead and improve among nations of the world a better understanding of a low emissions world.


Complete ESSAY
The Global Community has Fled Rather Than Led the Issue of Global Warming


Life on Earth is in decline due to global warming. Despite this realization, the global community has failed to agree and act upon a collective action plan against this grave threat. The dogmatic belief in an economic system centred around the idea of continuous growth and profit, rising populism and weakening international institutions has left the international community thinking about global warming in silos or not thinking about it at all.

After having taken the stance that the global community has failed to collectively lead the issue of global warming, this essay will begin by explaining what global warming is and how it is a threat to humanity. Going forward it will shed light upon the importance of the role of international community in tackling global warming and explore the socio-economic and political dynamics that have left the international community divided over the issue. The essay will conclude with the reiteration of why global warming has not had the required response from the global community and present a way forward for the countries to come together and deal with the issue.

Global warming is the increase in global temperatures due to excessive emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Anthropogenic activities that lead to greenhouse emissions leave the heat of the sun trapped inside the Earth’s atmosphere which results in warming of the planet. Global warming causes glaciers to melt resulting in a rise in sea levels which in turn results in a loss of coastal land. It also causes warming of the oceans beyond a normal level and a destruction of marine eco-system. Warming of the land also leads to unfavourable living conditions for many animals leading them to extinction. Warming of the planet has also led to the changing weather patterns which have disturbed cropping cycles around the world. Agriculture is also affected by extreme and unpredictable weather phenomena such as rain and storms. Global warming poses grave food security and extreme weather related disaster risks. Global warming has also caused drying up of water bodies such as lakes and rivers resulting in the loss of habitat for many species and desertification of land leading to the migration of entire human settlements. Global warming, thus, poses multiple threats such as food security, migration crisis, depleting natural habitats and more frequent natural disasters.

It is believed that global temperatures have risen by 0.85 degrees since pre-industrial time. This has happened due to the doubling of carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere due to industrialization. The United Nations inter-governmental panel on Climate Change has urged the world to contain this temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and not surpass the 2 degrees mark. Beyond a rise of 2 degrees, life on Earth would be a risk beyond imagination. As global warming impacts each and every one of us on this planet, it cannot be dealt with in isolation. Tackling global warming requires collective action nothing short of which can help us save this planet. The global community, however, seems to be indifferent to this pressing need due to an array of factors discussed in subsequent sections of this essay.

One of the major issues why the global community is divided over the issue of global warming was revealed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The debate there steered around the fact that how the global North has progressed at the expense of the countries of global South during the industrialization period. Major emissions which have caused this temperature rise were caused by what are now the biggest economies of the world. Sceptics of the conference believed that this was yet another attempt by the West to limit progress of poorer developing nations. This distrust among the two camps of nations led to a debate on historic and social justice. It was claimed by developing economies that it was now time for global powers to do more and give back to the planet what they had reaped out of it. Global powers, on the other hand, were also not willing to give significant commitments in terms of limiting emissions or financing climate smart developments in the developing world. The conference is recognized as a miserable failure and exposed the fault lines of the global community in collaborating to limit global temperatures.

Another realization that surfaced during the Copenhagen conference was the exceptionalism exhibited by the global super powers. This realization was seen to manifest in the Paris Climate Accord when President Donald Trump walked out of the agreement. Other economic giants like China and Australia were wary of the commitments being asked for in the Paris agreement. President Donald Trump categorically mentioned that the Paris agreement would hurt America at the benefit of other nations. The Paris agreement was a moment in the history where majority of the world’s nations had voluntarily come together to show their commitment towards global warming. Trump’s withdrawal was an attempt to sabotage decades of efforts for self-interests. It reinforced among nations of the developing world the belief that the West would continue their business as usual and the rest would be pushed to deal with issues of global warming. When global leaders back off from such commitments instead of leading by example, collective inaction is inevitable.

Inquiry into why Trump decided to exit from the Paris deal reveals a broader phenomenon to which global community has resorted to inaction over rising global temperatures. Domestic politics does not require leaders to pay attention to issues related to global warming. Most people are indifferent to the threat and value politicians in terms of their ability to fix more immediate problems. In a world where people are demanding for more jobs, better wages and health care; discussions over global warming take a back seat. The very nature of the cyclical democratic political system requires politicians to focus on short term gains for success. Trump did not have to worry about climate change during his election campaign as his term as president did not require any serious action over an issue whose impact would probably be felt much later. What benefitted him more were promises of more jobs and revival of the American industry.

This isolationist and inward looking approach to politics is rooted in rising populism. Populism is a major reason why countries fail to collaborate over global issues. Populism feeds on the idea that globalization has failed people of the developed world. Populist leaders appeal to people by providing simple answers to complex issues. They claim to end inequalities caused by globalization and bring back to people jobs that were taken away from them due to immigrants. Britain’s exit from European Union is a classic example in this regard. Not only does populism makes countries look inward it also weakens international collaborative institutions like the EU. Britain’s exit from the EU undermines collective efforts to fight global warming. Attention is diverted towards other issues like the future of the EU economic system and whether or not Britain would keep its commitments as part of the EU. Britain’s exit from the EU undermines the organizations bargaining powers on terms of dictating other member countries to far off limit greenhouse emissions.

Britain’s exit from the EU and the isolationist stance of many other leading economies is due to the very nature of our economic system. Free market economics has turned into a strictly competitive rather than a collaborative system.

China and the US are the two world’s greatest rival economies. They are also the major emitters of greenhouse gases around the world. Their rivalry over the global economic hegemony has led them to disregard the threat of global warming and intensify activities that further contribute to it.

China and the US are the largest coal burning countries of the world. Free market economics believes in continuous growth. The pursuit of unlimited growth in a finite world leads to detrimental consequences for the planet.

This is more so because of another important reason. Global warming as a threat does not pose urgency of action. Due to the vast number of actors involved and the impact of global warming on each differently, the whole debate about the urgency of action is diffused. This is reinforced by arguments of denialist movements across the world. Denialists term global warming as a hoax and claim that it is only a natural course in the evolution of the Earth. Their claims coupled with the inability to foresee immediate global disaster and the multiplicity of other issues that the countries have to deal with leads to global inaction against warming of the planet.

Denialists are also supported by influential lobby corporate lobby of fossil fuel giant such as Exxon Mobil. These corporations have a huge influence on politics as they are a critical source of funding for political campaigns. These organizations are so heavily entrenched in the economic system that they wield the power to topple governments and hence do not let their interests be damaged due to a seemingly far off threat. Corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Shell are involved in funding their own anti climate change research which divides the world into two camps trying to prove who is right while the main issue remains unaddressed.

In an undecided world like this national interests take precedence over global concerns. Energy security for China is a bigger threat than global warming. China relentlessly explores options to enhance its energy capacity most of which involve burning fossil fuels. Similarly no leading economy is willing to slow down their growth at the expense of action against global warming. National interests are often conflicting and instead of uniting the global community, divide it into a system of continuously changing alliances.

Countries are also concerned about the problem of free riding. Countries that are willing to take action are discouraged to see that others are benefitting at their expense. As the impact of action or inaction against global warming is evenly distributed, many countries do not feel obliged to take action. Australia is a strong proponent of inaction due to the problem of free riding. It has categorically stated in defense of its mining industry that action against global warming is futile if limited to only a few countries.

It is evident now that the global community has failed to collaborate over global warming due to a wide range of economic and socio-political reasons. Nonetheless, we must find ways through which the global community can steer the issue of global warming in the right direction.

One way to do this is the implementation of Paris Agreement universally. All nations must reduce emissions as committed in the Paris agreement earnestly. Global leaders who have refused to do so must be convinced to take serious action. The agreement till now is voluntary; making emission limitations binding may also help in this regard.

The developed world must show commitment to the cause by investing in climate smart technology and research and transfer it to the developing world. This is the only remedy to concerns of the global south that western countries have progressed at their expense. Investments that help developing countries shift to green technology will help build trust and enhance opportunities of collaboration.

Similarly development assistance should be tied to climate smart policies and projects. Developed countries should provide technical expertise and funds to help develop poor countries in a climate friendly manner.

Smart poverty reduction investments must be introduced to alleviate the poorest of people out of poverty. Global warming and poverty reinforce each other, hence, it is critical to deal with poverty to reunite against global warming. According to World Values Survey, climate smart values such as recycling and efficient use of water are directly related to affluence.

Hence, it is possible for a divided international community to unite over the issue of global warming. The international community must abandon the pursuit of selfish interests and act in collaboration to tackle global warming successfully. Global leaders must pro-actively take lead and improve among nations of the world a better understanding of a low emissions world.


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