How Seriously Do States Take Climate Change? – Ilka Vanessa Walker-Vera

Over the years, international organizations have adapted their policies and regulations to the events that have altered both domestic and international affairs. Climate change has been a very delicate issue in the past decade, as scientists have released information that has caught the attention of states across the globe. Human activity has altered the “greenhouse effect” making every single human being culpable and targetable of such change. As a result, states are concerned of the effect this has and might have in their communities in the near future. Governments have been actively involved in the implementation of international treaties to improve the environmental situation globally, decrease the effects of climate change, and prevent atrocious results due to a lack of responsibility. 

States have different concerns about the climate, which impedes the establishment of a more robust international institutions. Internationally, governments need to enforce a social contract for a benefit of all parties. Climate change is a global matter and the actions taken in one country will have a domino effect everywhere. If the situation worsens, the food chains will be altered. Living things, such as polar bears, will die and become extinct. The supply of food will decrease as the demand for food will increase. States must increase prices to prevent shortages. The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement made to address climate change, has been set to run through 2012. However, it is time to reevaluate the commitments previously made and how it has affected the planet.

In order to collectively address climate change, states need to innovate. New technology and large-scale research will control the levels of contamination. To promote cooperation, states must be responsible for measuring, reporting and verifying other states. By increasing state participation in this debate, more states will be bound to sign an agreement; “the effectiveness of an international agreement is limited by the commitment level of the agreement’s least interested party.” Even though states have different concerns, they all have the same interest – make the Earth a better place to live for its citizens. Tracking states’ activities will “urge process” as states do not meet voluntary goals unless they are legally compelled to do so. This leads to the constant debate of who is to be blamed and who should be the state to take the first step.

States must enter a universal agreement. Power nor resources matter; state must develop a collective plan to ensure the future of the planet. Policies and regulations should include both developed and developing countries because both are equally affected by this global phenomenon. The development of such a plan should be left to a small number of individuals, regardless of their citizenship, who are knowledgeable about the situation and that can amend previous regimes in order to slowly but surely end this global problem. As a result, this will prevent states from engaging in any sort of  disagreement. The key to a successful plan is a non-binding institution that oblige all states to to report facts about their data, regardless of their stages of development – this will also increase compliance and serve as a non-binding institution.

States all over the world have every right to be concern about how domestic and international affairs are handled and how it affects the planet. By complying and agreeing to a universal contract, states are bound to address and handle this issue. Climate change, as a result of human activity, has affected every state equally. Moreover, it has increase state participation as seen in the active movement to increase consciousness of the environment.

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4 thoughts on “How Seriously Do States Take Climate Change? – Ilka Vanessa Walker-Vera”

  1. Ilka, I agree with your post, especially regarding the fact that climate change is a global problem – not a domestic one. I really think that your idea of a small group of experts on climate change and its effects is crucial in moving forward on environmental policies. The main point is that the entire world should be worried about environmental change, regardless of nationality. Until now, most measures like the Kyoto Protocol have been ineffective in producing substantial results. Perhaps better technologies will be needed, as you suggested. However, an issue that comes up for developing countries is that they do not have the necessary funds to bear the cost of such improvements. So, although I do agree that it is a universal problem, I do think that the burden-sharing is not as equal and needs to be addressed as such. The more powerful, wealthy states (that tend to emit the most) should take the lead in moving forward with environmental protection policies, such as improved, cleaner means of energy production and consumption. Climate change is a human problem that governments, unfortunately, tend to overlook in their short-term mindsets. Overall, I agree, these governments need to realize the problem and work towards innovations to help solve this pertinent global issue.

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  2. Great Piece Ilka ! It was really informative and I enjoyed reading it. However, I have some differing opinions on some of the points you mentioned. Specifically, you mentioned that states have the same interests of “making the world a better place to live for all its citizens.” This detail stood out in your blog because I couldn’t help but argue that states may have this idea or motive but choose to ignore it. This is similar to the tragedy of the commons. Although actors are aware that their actions may result in the degradation of common resources, they will continue to choose short-term benefits. So although these countries are aware that their actions in air pollution, resource depletion, and other activities that have worsened climate change, they will continue to act in a manner that continues to provide them with short term beneficiaries. It is difficult to construct legislation that can bind all states because of differing opinions of fault, like you mentioned, but universal legislation is something that will happen over time and there needs to be an immediate solution to try and remedy some climate change issues. This remedy will have to be taken care of domestically for the short run but for the long run a universal binding legislation is needed.

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  3. I agree that this is definitely a serious issue that every state should care about and that there needs to be more cooperation. I am not sure I agree that it has affected every state equally, however, and this is one of the biggest obstacles towards greater cooperation. Climate change will have winners and losers and while all states will face serious consequences, some will be hit harder than others. Unfortunately, the states that are being hit the hardest are also the ones with the least power and influence and the ones who can do the least. Low lying countries such as the Maldives and Tuvalu risk being swallowed up completely, Bangladesh risks loosing much if not most of its territory, and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa risk turning into deserts and loosing their entire food supply. If industrialized countries with large carbon footprints such as the U.S. or China risked disappearing under water of loosing their entire food supply, and were already suffering from the affects of this, it would not be that difficult to facilitate international cooperation and adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Unfortunately this is not the case, and this is why this has been such a difficult task.

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  4. Ilka, I think you pose an interesting proposal for developed countries to follow. It would indeed be beneficial for all countries in the world to engage in global cooperation against climate change and the “greenhouse effect.” Nonetheless, We cannot ignore the fact that states and its governments often times weight there decisions on whether or not the effect of such would be immediate or not. It is very hard to demand of politicians and international actors that are elected to forget there short-term costs in order to make long-term benefits succeed.
    Moreover, I agree with your statement saying that innovation and technology is needed in order to provide for a more sustainable future. Currently the amount of resources and capital that need to be put into research and development in order to created an alternative energy would be staggering, an amount that no administration wants to take responsibility for. With this situation in mind, many administration have just opted to “minimize” their emissions and leave the innovation for the next generation. All in all though, I definitely agree with you that it is necessary for all international agents to come to the table and craft out a comprehensive plan that will avoid a catastrophe.

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