After two decades of climate negotiations, the time has come to champion a new climate treaty. But let's step back from mitigation and adaptation, renewable energy, climate deniers, climate science for minute. What lies at the heart of climate problem? What is this amorphous issue that is difficult to frame and even harder to resolve?
The 90s were a pivotal decade for the climate change movement—it saw the birth of the world's first international climate change agreement to curb GHG emissions, and the rise a revolutionary treaty that single-handedly saved the Earth's ozone layer. Since then, little headway has been made in the world of climate negotiations: not a single binding treaty, no universal ratification. So let's rewind time and explore the last two decades of climate leadership.
The climate problematic has its roots in collective international concerns regarding the human environment and the need to integrate environment concerns into development thought and eventual policy. The issues have been framed on the international institutional platform, seeking collective action—in terms of international engagement through conferencing, consultation, agreeing to a plan of action, on the resources for implementation, establishing who is liable for action and resources as well as to what degree, and effecting it through adoption in domestic policy and implementation. This process, as we see, has been held up in various stages.
On March 28th, the Australian government released its Paris climate conference discussion paper, designed to kick-start a public discussion on Australia’s climate change commitments in its INDCs. Australia’s discussion paper, however, lacks any reference to the target, even though this has been a stated aim of the signatories to the UNFCCC ever since the Copenhagen conference in 2009. The danger to the Paris Conference is that Australia’s hardening stance on emission reductions offers a chance for developing countries to adopt them as a shield against having to promise commitments of their own.
What does the 2016 U.S. presidential election mean for climate change, and how do the candidates stack up? Most of the GOP candidates’ positions boil down to: well-I-am-not-a-scientist-so-I-don’t-know-if-the-earth-is-warming-or-cooling. A republican senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, brought snowballs to the senate floor to prove that global warming was a myth. As Colbert pointed out, that’s like saying world hunger is over because you ate today.