Global Warming Regimes by tze65444


									Global Warming Regimes
        The idea of a “regime” is not a universal one. Few people know the meaning of
   the word within the context of politics. I asked many people what the word “regime”
   meant to them before I began writing this response. Almost universally, the answer
   followed the lines of “a dictatorship” or, slightly closer, “the feudal system”. There
   are many definitions of what exactly a regime is. Within international political
   science a regime is “a system of principles, norms, rules, operating procedures and
   institutions that actors create or accept to regulate and coordinate action in a
   particular issue area of international relations” (GEP 17). A good example of a regime
   under this definition would be the international Geneva Convention. The regulations
   set up within this convention hold all signers to a standard of treatment for prisoners
   of war. Violations are condemned by others within the convention and they can agree
   to impose sanctions or get the UN involved. Regimes create an etiquette of sort for
   international actors surrounding a certain issue; that can encompass states,
   corporations, industries, NGO‟s, academics, individuals and others. There is a
   socially acceptable set of actions after a regime has been formed.
        Particularly within the climate change arena there have been multiple attempts to
   create an effective international regime. The Kyoto Protocol is the most publicized
   endeavor but not the only one and decidedly not a universally successful one. Kyoto
   is an example of one of two kinds of regimes proposed for climate change; one sets
   goals based on prior emissions and the other is equity based.
        Kyoto is a representation of the former. The process leading up to the actions at
   Kyoto began in the 1980‟s. During this decade science began publishing on the issue
   of global warming; institutions such as NASA, The World Meteorological
   Organization, and others recognized in publication an unexpected rapid climate
   change. In 1988 the International Panel on Climate Change was established; their first
   report came out in 1990 and identified global warming as a scientific reality (GEP
   119) with greenhouse gases as a cause. Immediately, the United States set itself up as
   a veto state, opposing primarily Europe, positioning itself against any agreement that
   involved explicit obligations for the countries who signed. Japan ultimately decided
   which direction the talks would go in when it went against the US and began to limit
   its emissions voluntarily. It set the mark of having pre 1990 levels by 2000. That
   made the majority of industrialized nations (all but the US and the Soviet Union) in
   favor of a goal based protocol convention. Many different conventions took place and
   the UN started the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a Framework
   Convention on Climate Change. Europe led the charge for stabilization at 1990 levels
   but failed in getting the US to agree to any concrete promises or goals. After a few
   more non-conclusive Conferences of Parties, including the Earth Summit in Rio, the
   Kyoto Protocol was drafted in 1997.
        This document established a number of regulations and principles for the ratifying
   countries. There was a mandatory reduction of greenhouse emissions for
   industrialized countries (5.2% below 1990 levels)1. There were loopholes created to
   make the transition easier: the Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation,

 There were 12 gases included in the protocol. Carbon Dioxide is the most publicized due to its relation to fossil fuel
use. Though it is one of the least common in the atmosphere, it lasts longer which means it slowly increases in
proportion as the others fade or change form.
    and emission trading. The CDM and JI have developed countries do projects to
    reduce the emissions in developing and transition countries; that work counts toward
    the emission reduction credits of the developing country. Emission trading just means
    that if Germany decreases its emissions beyond its goal and has extra credits it could
    trade them with France who has not reached its target cuts. They could be traded for
    money or favors. Many opposed this because it allowed some countries not to pull
    their full weight. After much negotiation2 and George W. Bush announcing the US
    would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Russia joined the Protocol in 2004 making it
    have enough support to go into effect. The United States‟ withdrawal was a detriment
    to the effort but could not stop many countries making strides independently of the
        The second type of regime proposed is based on rights and equity. It raises
    questions like, why should the US which has a population of only 300 million be
    allowed to use almost half of the atmospheric “space” with its emissions? How is it
    fair to ask the South to give up fossil fuels and the only known path to development
    because the North used up the world‟s resources? It would allow emissions to be
    based on a more per capita basis and look at the historic impact of regions on the
    current problem. This is especially important to the developing world which is by far
    the leader in population, while the developed countries actually have declining
    populations. The developed world has more technology and money that should allow
    them to change their emissions patterns. This should not destroy the global North but
    allow them to develop and incorporate new methods of production and forms of
    energy for both themselves and the South, paying back the world for their damage
    their development path has left behind.
        “The „right‟ to dump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has significant
    economic value, and the economic advantages of this right cannot be ignored” (DH
    72). This method does recognize the fact that the North has used up more than its
    share and should pay back the South for the consequences. We can all see from
    examples like hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that the poor are the ones who suffer
    during a natural disaster. They do not have the resources to get out of the danger
    zone. The South is who would suffer the most from the effects of global warming but
    has contributed to the problem the least throughout history. They cannot have an
    industrial revolution like Europe and the US did, fossil fuel and production heavy.
    The North needs to pay for the South to innovate another path toward development to
    prevent disaster; otherwise, the Southern nations will not agree to limit emissions
    thereby limiting their own potential.

Word Count: 997
Most Useful Readings: GEP chapters 1-3, Dead Heat,

 One of the main sources of contention was the involvement of the developing countries such as India and
China who were already responsible for over ten percent of CO2 emissions.

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