Environment politics global governance, challenge, futur, civil society, international relations, game theory, zero sum theory, institutions, power, media
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem". Seems like Reagan's statement should be inverted today, and the notion of Government amplified. In fact, in the last decades, states started realizing that they had to face a much broader issue than their own domestic concerns, a worldwide dilemma simple per se, but much more complex to solve: Climate Change. This matter also introduced the concept of public good and an international logic to protect this good; simply put, no states or human being has more interest than other in protecting the air he breaths - the Ozone layer - and the environment he lives in. However, if theoretically this concept was determined, in practice, no efficient solutions where found. The aim of this essay is not to find international solutions to climate change, but to understand the deeply rooted causes of the problem.
Believing that the "international community" feels extremely concerned about climate change would be a very genuine trust. On the contrary, the optimistic belief of the 70's that a global solution would be found and implemented successfully are being more and more discredited in time. Only by looking at the recent fifa's decision of organizing the 2022 world cup in Qatar, we realize that no real concerns and priorities has been integrated internationally; FIFA is a private international actor which can possibly imagine the ecological cost of organizing a world cup in such a desert place as Qatar. But here lays one of the major problems: economic interests.
The realist assumption that states economic interests is the main barrier toward a global solution to climate change cannot be dismissed; as we will see in the first part of this essay, economic growth and globalization directly provoked environmental change. Similarly, it is because solutions to climate change are very costly and that there is not international consensus to put them into place that states are reluctant to "invest" into climate change unilaterally.
However one point should be made about states' economic interests: if it is true that economics interests shape international cooperation to climate change, it should be noticed that states, unlike in the past centuries, are not the only international actors anymore. As Levy and Newell put it, "Business plays a key role in international environmental politics. Private firms are engaged directly or indirectly in the lion share of the resource depletion, energy use and hazardous emissions that generate climate change." . Likewise, international organizations should also be considered as active actors in environmental policies.
These things said, should we consider states' economic interests as the only obstacle to the development of an efficient, global response to climate change?
[...] It is because the institutional design of international organizations are not always adapted to our political global world, to tackle important problems such as coordination, that member states keep on associating international institutions to arenas where to confront their political and economical powers. [...]
[...] To be efficient, cooperation needs to be unanimous, and if not, at least qualitative more than quantitative. In that sense, Arild Underdal states: “Concentration of power in the hands of pushers tends by and large to enhance effectiveness, while concentration of power in the hands of laggards has the opposite effect” and tends to generate fear and withdrawal among laggards. Furthermore, another very influential actor should be taken into account; business. As a matter of fact, firms, industries and multinational companies play a key role in international environmental politics for two reasons: on the one side, as we saw, the majority of them are the direct cause of Ozone depletion – as the Business council for sustainable development states “industry accounts for more than one third of energy consumed worldwide and uses more energy than any other end-use in industrialized and newly industrialized world” - , on the other side, their active cooperation and economical power make them efficient political players with a substantial influence on environmental policies. [...]
[...] In order to reach this consensus, international cooperation is needed. However, in order to reach the Nash equilibrium – which considers that players are in equilibrium while cooperating and have no incentive to unitarelly change their action – a few assumptions must shared between the actors: concerns in climate change and future generations, mutual trust and transparency (knowing other actors information's). In a very optimistic way, this is what the Kyoto protocol was advocating. By applying the basic statements of the Pigovian tax, the Kyoto protocol unlocked a free market in buying and selling pollution rights. [...]
[...] « The lack of progress in tackling climate change internationally is due to states' economical interests ». Discuss. “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem”.Seems like Reagan's statement should be inverted today, and the notion of Government amplified. In fact, in the last decades, states started realizing that they had to face a much broader issue than their own domestic concerns, a worldwide dilemma simple per se, but much more complex to solve: Climate Change. [...]
[...] These things said, should we consider states' economic interests as the only obstacle to the development of an efficient, global response to climate change? In the first part of this essay, we will try to understand how climate change and economy are linked and evaluate to what extent are states' economic interests are an impediment to the formation of a global consensus toward climate change. Secondly, we will focus on the actors of what we may call the international community, and try to apprise the issues of global governance, institutions and power. [...]
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