ILO had a very interesting discussion about climate change policy in chapter 2. The U.S. must consider the perception it has to the international community. Being a model for other countries and hoping that they follow suit in becoming democracies, having better human rights standards, and helping the environment are all things that we hope to influence. How is it that we can tell other countries to help the environment and to slow pollution rates if he fail to sign and ratify the single most influential agreement in that department? The Clinton administration signed the Kyoto protocol but failed to ratify it, a step in the right direction, but not quite enough to avoid hypocrisy. The Bush administration seemed to support the ratification of Kyoto and other emission reduction policies but abandoned everything when the economy was threatened by these policies. This was most definitely a step in the wrong direction but definitely fixable. Obama came into office with a goal to pass policy that reduced emissions and hoped to pass Kyoto. Appointing Steven Chu and focusing on China were two very important things that Obama did and everything looked to be in place to get ground breaking changes through. However, China refused to sign any internationally binding agreements to reduce emissions and cited Annex II as the reason why Kyoto did not apply to their country. This ruined the good vibe at Copenhagen and stalled all progress on the issue.
Bush cited the economy as the reason for scrapping policy change and Obama won’t act without China. A deeper look at this reasoning may reveal that these are actually the same reason for the same decision. China and the U.S. are the biggest polluters and change would be very dramatic and impact-full. Obama is probably shying away from giving reasons like: I am avoiding climate change policy because the economy cannot handle it. However, blaming it on China is a legitimate excuse and also expresses the same message. Without China on board with strictly enforced emission reduction policies the Unites States would be putting its businesses at a huge competitive disadvantage with China and China would massively benefit from avoiding policy change that helps the environment. Also, without China on board, progress by the U.S. and other countries in helping the environment could be erased by China’s lack of cooperation as well as the probable increase in demand for Chinese goods once they are benefited by U.S. policy change that damages its own businesses. Can internationally binding climate change policy pass for the U.S. absent China being on board or will China always be a prerequisite for major change in this area?
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Upon stumbling on this reading on the New York Times the discussion about climate change seems to be gaining importance. Much of it is due to the meeting on climate change that is going to be held at Doha, Qatar for the last round of talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But this meeting according to the New York Times will achieve barely anything because of the unwillingness of countries to actually fulfill emission targets. Previous targets set in 2009 for limiting the warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will not be achieved. Instead of reducing as carbon emissions developing countries such as China and India are increasing their coal related emissions because of these countries high concentration on coal. A criticism is made to developed nations who have decreased their carbon emissions by displacing their emission burdens to other developing countries by simply transferring manufacturing to those countries. In the case of the United States progress has been made for reducing its carbon emissions and increasing the supply of natural gas. But though the United States has made some achievements it is still one of the most carbon emitting countries. What this article seems to point out in general is that though agreements are made for possible emission targets these are in reality never going to be achieved. As the year’s pass rather than trying to meet their goals of reduction they are actually increasing emissions. Inevitably their goals of limiting global warming and carbon emissions will become unattainable if this trend continues. Though people have high hopes for the Doha summit the actual progress in reducing emissions is may be too difficult with emissions at a record high. I agree with this article because it seems to difficult to make anyone accountable for reducing carbon emissions. Countries are finding ways to work around their reductions like moving manufacturing abroad or in the case of China who still wants to be considered a “developing country” to be allowed to continue its emissions. Reductions are difficult to achieve but growing climate changes and rising global temperature tells us that global warming is something that we cannot push-off for too long.
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Fareed Zakaria – Rising powers need to rise up
Some food for thought from Fareed Zakaria. As the rest rise, how will they be socialized to new roles in the international system? Arguably, the U.S. had a century of British tutelage to prepare for its period of dominance.
The newly rising powers — China, India, Brazil — rightly insist that they be more centrally involved in the structures of power and global decision making. But when given the opportunity, do they step up to the plate and act as great powers with broad interests? On trade? Energy use? Climate change?
No. Many of these countries want to be deferred to on matters of regional peace and stability. Yet they continue to pursue their national interests even more zealously. Perhaps the most egregious example is South Africa, which insists that it is Africa‘s natural leader. Yet the country has been shamefully absent in the efforts to rescue the people of Zimbabwe and Sudan from the tragedies unfolding in their lands.
Chalk up one more example of the institutional inferiority of international politics.
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