Paris Agreement: The Complicated Tangle of International Politics
With the remarkable expansion in the sphere and scale of human activities triggered by globalisation, environmental problems such as climate change have been considered as a threat to earth and mankind. These problems cannot be solved by a single country. They require joint, cross-border approach by the international community. But even with various agreements being formulated between different nations under the UN, global temperatures are still rising. The Kyoto protocol in 2005 had mainly focused on top-bottom approach, and though well-intentioned, it doomed to achieve its objectives. The most prominent reason was that the developed countries were not ready to ratify the agreement out of self-interest. For eg- Without the United States ratifying the protocol in their own country or recently emerging economic powerhouses such as China reducing emission; the targets to reduce carbon emissions weren’t met. Another reason for the failure was due to the limited availability of crucial data and knowledge regarding the topic at that point of time.So the Paris agreement was recently put in action in 2015, which had the bottom up approach where countries had to submit their goals to be achieved in the long term future as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to reduce further carbon emissions therefore tackling the rising environmental problem on a voluntary scale. But now the Paris agreement is also on the verge of failing because of various reasons. One of the most major however, is the fact that there is no enforcement mechanism contained in the Agreement whatsoever. In the agreement countries are expected to set their own targets for reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.
These targets also need to be progressive as well as ambitious. This is where countries simple aren’t willing to take the onus upon themselves and through this the United Nations has no powers to take an action on whether the targets set by the respective countries are met or not. The only thing that the UN can do is to put ‘diplomatic pressure’ on countries which would in turn make the process slow, unreliable and most of all, the countries themselves not answerable for their actions towards climate change. Another problem in the Paris Agreement is regarding various loopholes of having the notion of Carbon pricing in countries. Let me explain how Carbon Pricing works. Every government issues a fixed amount of permits for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in their country. These permits are either sold or distributed to various companies. Companies can buy/sell these carbon credits according to their need to produce of GHGs from/to other corporates like a commodity. In this way the amount of GHG emission in a country remains fixed and only the players involved change.The carbon pricing model has been very effective in countries for promoting and reduction of emissions. But when it was implemented in the Paris agreement where it was to be implemented in a multi country model, it has several flaws. For eg- In case of developed countries, they have loads of money to buy carbon credits for their overall development. But on the case of developing countries it becomes a situation of forced reduction wherein despite the fact that it will hamper economic growth, those countries simply cannot afford to buy these permits and hence has to cut down on emissions. Thus, the Carbon Pricing does not take economic development of a country into consideration and many other factors provide hindrance to working of Carbon Pricing. In general, this creates an unfair system but there is no system other than Carbon Pricing where any country would take part in GHG reduction. The Paris Agreement has also failed to answer one of the main questions of the world- whether to stop burning fossil fuels and move to cleaner energy.
They have succumbed to the pressure under countries which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels and major nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar who aren’t willing to switch on to cleaner sources of energy. Even though the reasons may be correct on not to take a decisive action on the topic, but the points stated earlier still leads to the ultimate question- ‘If the Paris agreement seeks the vision of the de-carbonized globe, does it have the provisions and the lengths, to fulfil it?’In the wake of the following hurdles, I would like to give a list of solutions that could be implemented on a global scale-· One of the problems that most of nations are facing right now is that they cannot solve the climate change problem on their own because their reach for financial stability, natural resources and various other factors is restricted to their own country. This is where corporates can come in. Implementation through corporate government synergy through Paris agreement is an area which hasn’t been focused on, until now. Climate financing by the Private Sector should be done in each country to actively deal with the situation on the terms from which both the parties have something to gain. Public Private Partnerships and Foreign Direct Investment in the field of Renewable and Sustainable Energy must be promoted in order to ensure the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to Nations. This can already be seen happening where corporates are altering their long-term business models in response to the commercial opportunities and challenges posed by climate change. Slowly but surely global warming is becoming one of the main drivers of investment strategy for various corporates.
Sensitization and demystification for the Paris agreement especially for the developing countries should be one of the main focus by the stakeholders. Considering the complexity of the agreement, the provisions within should be explained in simple and clear language to the general public. Also countries should realize that their INDC’s are based on fulfilling majorly on voluntary and local levels of carbon gas reduction rather than just making laws on the national level. The civil society organisations should play a leading role in this sensitisation effort. You need to have cooperation on a voluntary level, but also effective cooperation on an international level for countries. And for that to happen private players (as stated in the previous point) need to be kept in the game, else the system will fold. · With regards to solving the loopholes within carbon pricing, every country would have to take self-responsibility to form a self-regulating GHG emission framework for itself to reduce GHG reductions. This is to consider the fact that every country has its own individual needs based on various factors like availability of natural resources, population density, geographical conditions, etc. While this notion may seem complicated, frivolous, and time consuming this may only be the only solution to the problem. With regards to the issue, national leaders should also discuss these problems on an international scale and bring the problem to a limelight of the public and corporates.
In the end, we need more attention to explore the arena of climate change which has become the most complicated sphere of international politics (other than terrorism). I would like to emphasize that there is an urgent need to address this global issue which is turning into a threat to life with each second passing by. All nations and companies coming together and working together in a systematic manner to handle this issue in the long run is what is needed right now and should be worked on in immediate effect.
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