The Politics of Climate Change SYR.EDU by sammyc2007

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									The Politics of Climate Change

Climate change
What prevents the international community from responding effectively to climate change?

4/16/2008

Hans Peter Schmitz

Climate change –policy options

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Is global warming taking place?
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Yes Yes

Is human activity contributing to climate change?
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Should we spent resources on mitigating climate change or on coping with it?
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For mitigation: only ‘real’ solution is a total turnaround For adaptation: less expensive/takes advantage of economic and technological progress
4/16/2008 Hans Peter Schmitz

Unresolved questions?
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What is undisputed: Human activity has increased the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (C02) concentration.
What is disputed:
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How important is human activity for climate change? How should we deal with it (combating or coping)? Who should pay for climate change measures?
4/16/2008 Hans Peter Schmitz

Skeptics
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Is CO2 really the main culprit for climate change?
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Is there a linear relationship between increasing C02 levels and warming?
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How does the trapping capacity change with rising levels?

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What happened in the Earth‟s past when C02 levels were high (due to volcanic activities, etc.)? What else affects climate change?
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Examples: Sun cycles, cosmic radiation, sea currents…

4/16/2008

Hans Peter Schmitz

Global response

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1950s: First scientific evidence for human role in increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs). 1985-87: UN Climate Change conferences. 1988: Canada demands a 20 per cent reduction of C02 emissions below 1988 levels by 2005.
4/16/2008 Hans Peter Schmitz

Scientific evidence
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1988: Creation of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC, membership: more than 2,000 scientists). 1992: Adoption of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).  Voluntary commitment by developed nations (Annex I) to return to 1990 emission levels by 2000. 1994: UNFCC comes into force.
4/16/2008 Hans Peter Schmitz

Kyoto Protocol
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Mandates an average of 5% reduction by 2012 below 1990 levels.  Decrease: 8% European Union; 7% US; 6% Canada/Japan; 0% Russia/New Zealand; No agreement on non-Annex-I countries. Implementation:
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lower emissions, enhance “sinks” (carbon sequestration; grow forests), emissions trading with other Annex I states;
Hans Peter Schmitz

4/16/2008

Bush Administration

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2005: Kyoto comes into force after Russia signs on in late 2004 (55% of the Annex I countries needed).
Federal government/Bush administration  Kyoto protocol harmful to US economic interests.  disputes scientific evidence for climate change.  Wants all countries to reduce GHGs.

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4/16/2008

Hans Peter Schmitz

Private sector and local levels

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Local levels and private sector
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State and city initiatives to decrease „carbon footprint‟

NGOs and MNCs: Private Sector Initiatives
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Insurance companies (Swiss Re)

4/16/2008

Hans Peter Schmitz

Explaining failure
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Why has Kyoto failed?  US power and domestic interests
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Powerful domestic business lobby/consumer resistance Failure of Kyoto to include developing nations Incentives for free-riding Link between rising carbon dioxide and temperature levels? Is mitigation or adaptation the appropriate response? Alternatives to fossil fuels are not readily available
Hans Peter Schmitz

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Collective action problem
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Science
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Technology
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4/16/2008

Theories of IR
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Neo-Realism: self-interested resource exploitation  The issue is not yet a national security problem. Countries should pursue their autonomous strategies. Neo-liberal Institutionalism: collective action problem  The issue is a typical collective action problem requiring coordination among states.  Domestic business interests (in the US) prevail over environmental activists. Idealism/Constructivism: global governance  The environment is a global challenge to the nation state. Climate requires the creation of a world government.
4/16/2008 Hans Peter Schmitz

Nuclear energy?
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Is nuclear energy the solution?
Realism: YES
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The major long-term concern is dependency (on oil).

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Institutionalism: YES
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Peaceful use of nuclear energy will contribute to economic growth and inter-state cooperation.

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Idealism/Identity: YES/NO
Yes: Climate change requires immediate response.  No: Nuclear energy is unsafe and environmentally destructive (no safeHans Peter Schmitz policy for waste). disposal 4/16/2008
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