The Environment Global Warming

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					The Environment: Global Warming
Politics of Everyday Life POL771


Global Warming
• Today, global warming looms in many people’s minds as one of the biggest threats facing the planet • Issues about the environment affect us in our everyday lives • Virtually all environmental issues are linked to the dynamics of globalized political and economic processes


The Greenhouse Effect
• Joseph Fourier, French physicist, theorised 1827 the earth’s atmosphere acts like the glass of a plant-breeder’s hothouse • Man-made emissions account for just under 4% of all greenhouse gases • Glaciers of the last ice-age were triggered by a fall of two degrees C in the average summer temperature around 115,000 years ago

Useful Terms
• OECD member states (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) • Global commons (Resources shared by the international community) • Annex 1 nations • Annex 1 Expert Group • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): a group of scientists who present policy options on the environment

Environmental Awareness
• In the 60s international concern about preservation of the natural environment rapidly developed • Carson, Rachel (1962) Silent Spring • In the 70s international environmental politics matured further, and • Green movements, environmental and industrial NGOs, international organisations became key actors in environmental politics

The Stockholm Conference 1972
• UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm 1972 • Established the principles for further development of international responses to trans-national environmental problems • Common Heritage of Mankind – whereby common resources should be collectively managed and preserved • UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

World Commission on Environment
• UN established a World Commission on Environment and Development • Chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, who promoted the concept of, • ‘Sustainable development’ – considers long term implications in our decisions, and gives equal weight to environmental, social and economic dimensions of development

1992, the spirit of Rio
• Since Rio, political processes have linked issues of development and environment and the contested notion of sustainable development • Dominance of G8 nation states • Southern nations often lack international attention and funding • Any treaty is likely to set national or regional limits to the release of CO2, the chief suspect in any global warming

Consequences of change?
• CO2 is also an inevitable by-product of burning fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – that make an industrial way of life possible • Rich countries might have to change their comfortable existences in order to consume less energy • Developing countries, trying to enrich their lives might see their own aspirations confounded

The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment
• to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty on global warming • 141 countries have ratified the agreement, agreeing to reduce emissions of CO2 • Negotiated in Kyoto 1997 • Came into force on 16th Feb 2005 • If implemented will reduce average global temperature by 0.02 and 0.28 degrees C by 2050

Kyoto Protocol
• In recognition of differential capacities and forms of energy stocks, not all nations have the same targets for reducing emissions • For example, the EU as a whole has a target of 8% below 1990 levels • Norway is allowed to increase emissions by 1%


Kyoto; a divide
• JUSCANZ nations insist developing countries limit emissions and want opportunities to develop alternate approaches • EU argued for serious cuts • Poorer nations appealed to the principle of justice • OPEC nations opposed any moves viewed as a threat to their economies

Opposition to Kyoto
• Two major countries opposed to the treaty are the USA and Australia • Sceptics argue that Kyoto is a scheme to cut the growth of the industrial democracies, or to transfer wealth to the third world in what they claim is a global socialism initiative • In 2000 the US announced its withdrawal from the process

Why would the US not ratify?
• Perceptions of national interest • Division of powers in the political system requires any international convention to be agreed by Senate • Reluctance on the part of US citizens to stop their high consumption • Energy production and motoring lobbies – known as the Global Climate Coalition, form an extremely successful lobbying organisation at domestic and international levels

Search for a just solution
• Southern nations demand an equal share of global atmospheric commons • The Global Commons Institute has developed a plan, ‘contraction and convergence’ • Every person should have an equal emission quota • All emissions quotas are marketable


Latest news on greenhouse emissions
• Research carried out by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a new high of CO2 emissions • The new figures are likely to be a powerful tool in the battle to convince the United States, the world’s biggest polluter, that it urgently needs to join efforts to slow down emissions