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Distinguishing between developed and developing states in the realm of global eco-politics

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Distinguishing between developed and developing states in the realm of global eco-politics.

By Eugene Matos De Lara


It has been noted that the level of priority environmental issues receive varies depending on one’s political education or culture. Needless to say, some drastic facts given to us by scientific studies suggest that we may well be on the verge of the collapse of human civilization. Undeniably, one of the main reasons for nature’s distress call is climate change and its green-house effect on our atmosphere. Modern human activities and heavy industrialization have dramatically changed the Earth’s natural course. These activities are contributing to the extremely excessive production of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and many other green house gases (GHG). Tackling ecological issues today has been at the forefront of many international relations debates. It is a global and common issue in which we all have a stake.

Many environmentalists believe that to tackle this ambitious challenge, states should entrench global eco-politics in their international and national agenda. In addition, they should consult environmentalists and seek climate change mitigation in the international community to help the situation rather than it being solely a self-imposed precaution. I have always found it more accessible to dismantle an international issue by shedding light into variables that impedes international cooperation, in this case global eco-politics.

Realist international relations theory questions the viability of such accords and explains the variation in state sensitivity to relative gains overlooked by other school of thoughts, and how that constrains international cooperation for GHG management. In this way, we highlight the notion of relative gain that is triggered by the scarcity of resources and the attempt of state security maximization. Consequently, states are inclined to be cautious before jumping into GHG management policies and/or treaty withdrawal (Mearsheimer 1994 12). Moreover, this economical pursuit can be seen when Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, gave a press conference in 2007 in favour of national readiness rather than helping international cooperation by stating: “if we accept global warming as a real phenomenon… instead of hopeless attempts to fight it, we should prepare ourselves for its consequences.”

In doing so , …among others has suggested that the design of international accords relevant to environmental progress lacks the distinction between developed and developing states (Victor 2001). The corner stone Kyoto protocol established in 1997 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) led to the Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) giving a flare of advantage to emerging economies. This principle has previously been used in the Convention on Long-Range Trans-boundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), Geneva 1979, to send financial support to developing countries to assist them in reducing their emissions and successfully adapting to climate change. Today, the UN estimates between 67 and 130 billion dollars per year must be dedicated to mitigation efforts and climate change in developing countries and emerging economies. In addition, the UN has ratified China as a non-annex “B” party with no binding targets in 2002, thus exempted from provisions. Article 4.2 of the UNFCCC commits industrialized countries to “[take] the lead” in reducing emissions, on the grounds that they have been historically responsible for the ongoing GHG levels. In doing so, it pressures the treaty secretariats to place a stronger emphasis on developing countries instead of developed economies, where the former face the added risks caused by poverty and population growth.

It was observed in Victor (2001) that: “power is the first and foremost a function of emissions. China and the United States are the most powerful countries on global warming because they have the largest emissions and thus the greatest ability to inflict global harm and avoid harm through their actions.” The increased policies of fiscal stimulus lead us to believe that the financial crisis led by the United States, as a world financial leader, has other pressing worries eclipsing the environment on the national agenda. The rejection of the Kyoto protocol by the United States and the withdrawal of Canada are clear signs of a lack of recognition by the legislator and the misadministration of the economic burden these two states carry.

Kyoto protocol is inequitable and outweighs the environmental benefits. I would posit the crisis of overconsumption and debt fuelled bingeing have interlinked both the global environment and economical degradation. Realist IR theory has demonstrated that states draw indisputable attention to their resiliency and vulnerability. Finding a balance between global development and global radical ecological change can be achieved by creating a distinction and recognition between developed, developing states, and the individual special circumstances to provide a flexible and adapted state-friendly strategy to attract participation and combat environmental degradation caused by green-house gasses.


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