The following article, “The Global Community Has Fled Rather than Led the Issue of Global Warming.“, is written by Quratulain Babar, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
The dogmatic belief in an economic system centred around the idea of continuous growth and profit, rising populism, and weakening international institutions has left the international community thinking about global warming in silos or not thinking about it at all, leading to the failure of the global community to tackle this issue.
2- What is Global warming, and how is the international community important in tackling it?
3- Why has the global community fled and not led the issue of Global Warming?
- ✓Distrust among the countries of the global North and South has turned the issue of global warming into a debate of historical and social justice
- Case in point: Failure of Copenhagen climate conference
- ✓Exceptionalism exhibited by global leaders
- Case in point: America’s walkout of the Paris Climate Accord
- ✓Global Warming is not a consideration in domestic politics
- Case in point: Donald Trump’s election campaign
- ✓Rising populism has weakened international institutions.
- Case in point: Britain’s exit from the European Union
- ✓The nature of the existing economic system is competitive rather than collaborative.
- Case in point: New Cold War between China and the US
- ✓The global community is not feeling the urgency of the threat.
- Case in point: Denialist movements
- ✓Influential corporate lobbies
- Case in point: Fossil fuel giant Exxon Mobil’s anti-climate change research investments
- ✓National interests take precedence over global concerns.
- Case in point: Global energy security concerns
- ✓Free rider problem; one country enjoys inaction at the expense of others.
- Case in point: Australia’s mining industry
4- How can the global community successfully lead the issue of Global Warming?
- ✓Collaborative action on the Paris Climate Agreement
- ✓Transfer of green technology and scientific knowledge to the developing world
- ✓Climate change-linked development assistance
- ✓Poverty reduction and equitable distribution of global resources
Answer to the Question
Global warming is a serious issue which poses a serious threat to humanity. It is not only playing havoc on thousands of lives across the globe but also putting the survival of future generations at stake. For instance, global warming may cause Bangladesh to lose a part of its coastal landmass and cause African farmers to experience frequent crop-destroying draughts. Despite this realization, the global community has failed to agree and act upon a collective action plan against this grave threat. Rising populism, weakening international institutions, and great and growing economies have left the international community thinking about global warming in silos. Many social, political, and economic factors have divided the international community over this issue. It is the need of the hour to come together and take a collaborative stance in tackling this severe challenge to humanity. First, developed countries must transfer green technology and scientific knowledge to developing countries. Next to it, all countries must take collaborative action on the Paris Climate Agreement. Moreover, the international community must abandon the pursuit of selfish interests and act in collaboration to tackle this issue successfully. Thus, global leaders must proactively take the lead and improve the understanding of low greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s nations.
To elaborate on the phenomenon, global warming is the increase in global temperatures due to excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. Anthropogenic activities also lead to greenhouse emissions, which leave the heat of the sun trapped inside the Earth’s atmosphere, which results in the planet’s warming.
How is global warming a threat to humanity?
Global warming can be manifested in every corner of the globe. For example, glaciers are melting; consequently, sea levels are rising, ultimately resulting in the loss of coastal land. It also causes the warming of the oceans beyond a normal level and the destruction of marine ecosystems. Further, global warming also leads to unfavourable living conditions for many animals, leading them to extinction. It has also led to changing weather patterns and disturbing cropping cycles worldwide. Moreover, agriculture is also affected by extreme and unpredictable weather phenomena such as rain and storms. It poses grave food security and extreme weather-related risks. Besides, it has caused the drying up of water bodies such as lakes and rivers, resulting in the loss of habitat for many species and land desertification, leading to the migration of entire human settlements. Global warming, thus, poses multiple threats, such as food security, migration crises, the depletion of natural habitats, and more frequent natural disasters.
How is the international community important in tackling it?
It is believed that global temperatures have risen by 0.85 degrees since pre-industrial times. This has happened due to the doubling of carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere due to industrialisation. In this regard, the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has urged the world to contain this temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and not surpass the 2-degree mark. Beyond a rise of 2 degrees, life on Earth would be a risk beyond imagination. As global warming impacts everyone, it cannot be dealt with in isolation. Thus, tackling global warming requires collective action, which can help us save this planet. However, the global community seems indifferent to this pressing need due to an array of factors discussed below.
Distrust among the global North and South has turned global warming into a debate of historical and social justice.
One of the major reasons why the global community is divided over the issue of global warming is the distrust between the global North and South, which was revealed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The debate steered around the fact that the global North has progressed at the expense of the countries of the global South during the industrialization period. For instance, major emissions, which caused this temperature rise were caused by what are now the world’s biggest economies. Moreover, sceptics of the conference believed this was yet another attempt by the West to limit the progress of developing nations. This distrust between the two camps of nations led to a debate on historical and social justice. It was claimed by developing economies that it was now time for global powers to do more and give back to the planet what they have reaped out of it. Global powers, on the other hand, were not willing to make significant commitments in terms of limiting emissions or financing climate-smart developments in the developing world. The conference is recognized as a miserable failure and has exposed the fault lines of the global community in collaborating to limit global temperatures.
Exceptionalism exhibited by global leaders in the Paris Climate Accord.
Another realization that surfaced during the Copenhagen Conference was the exceptionalism exhibited by the global superpowers. This realization was manifested in the Paris Climate Accord when President Donald Trump left the agreement. He categorically mentioned that the Paris Agreement would hurt America and benefit other nations. Trump’s withdrawal was an attempt to sabotage decades of efforts for self-interest. Similarly, other economic giants like China and Australia were wary of the commitments being asked for in the Paris Agreement. As a result, it reinforced the belief among nations of the developing world that the West would continue their business as usual and the rest would be pushed to deal with global warming issues. When global leaders back off from such commitments instead of leading by example, collective inaction is inevitable.
Global warming is not a consideration in domestic politics.
In addition, the exclusion of global warming from domestic politics is another culprit behind the failure of the international community to tackle this issue. To illustrate, domestic politics does not require leaders to pay attention to issues related to global warming because most people are indifferent to the threat and value politicians in terms of their ability to fix more immediate problems. For example, in a world where people demand more jobs, better wages, and health care, discussions over global warming take a back seat; consequently, the very nature of the cyclical democratic political system requires politicians to focus on short-term gains for success. Its demonstration can be seen in Trump’s walkout from the Paris Agreement. He did not have to worry about climate change during his election campaign as his term as president did not require any serious action over an issue whose impact would probably be felt much later. Thus, what benefitted him more were promises of more jobs and a revival of the American industry.
Increasing populism has weakened international institutions.
Besides, populism is a major reason why countries fail to collaborate on global issues. It feeds on the idea that globalization has failed the people of the developed world, and populist leaders appeal to people by providing simple answers to complex issues. They claim to end inequalities caused by globalization and bring back to people jobs that were taken away from them due to immigrants. To illustrate, Britain’s exit from the European Union is a classic example in this regard. Moreover,not only does populism make countries look inward, but it also weakens international collaborative institutions like the EU. For example, Britain’s exit from the European Union undermines collective efforts to fight global warming. Its exit from the EU undermines the organization’s bargaining power to dictate to other member countries to limit greenhouse emissions.
The competitiveness in the global economic system.
In addition, the competitiveness in the global economic system has made the issue of global warming difficult to resolve. To illustrate, Britain’s exit from the EU and the isolationist stance of many other leading economies is due to the very nature of the global economic system. For instance, free market economics has become a strictly competitive rather than a collaborative system, as is evident in the case of China and the US – the two world’s greatest rival economies. They are also the major emitters of greenhouse gases around the world. Their rivalry over the global economic hegemony has led them to disregard the threat of global warming and intensify activities that further contribute to it. This has ultimately led to the failure of the global community to address the issue of climate change.
The global community is not feeling the urgency of the Threat.
Further, global warming, as a threat, does not pose urgency for action. Due to the vast number of actors involved and the different impacts of global warming, the whole debate about the urgency of action is diffused. Moreover, the arguments of denialist movements across the world reinforce this approach. Denialists term global warming as a hoax and claim that it is only a natural course in the evolution of the Earth. Their claims, coupled with the inability to foresee immediate global disaster and the diversity of other issues that the countries have to deal with, lead to global inaction against the warming of the planet.
Influential corporate lobbies
Furthermore, influential corporate lobbies of fossil fuel giants also support denialists. These corporations have a huge influence on politics as they are a critical source of funding for political campaigns. These organizations are so heavily entrenched in the economic system that they wield power to topple governments and, hence, do not let their interests be damaged due to a seemingly far-off threat. For example, corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Shell are involved in funding their anti-climate change research, which divides the world into two camps trying to prove who is right while the main issue remains unaddressed.
National interests take precedence over global concerns.
Adding to it, in an undecided world, national interests take precedence over global concerns. For example, energy security in China is a bigger threat than global warming. As a result, China relentlessly explores options to enhance its energy capacity, most of which involve burning fossil fuels. Similarly, any leading economy is unwilling to slow down its growth at the expense of action against global warming. Hence, national interests, instead of uniting the global community, divide it on the issues of global concern, making it difficult to mitigate global warming.
Free rider problem: one country enjoys inaction at the expense of others.
Another factor is that countries are also concerned about the problem of free riding. To illustrate, countries willing to take action are discouraged from seeing that others are having benefits at their expense. As the impact of action or inaction against global warming is evenly distributed, many countries do not feel obliged to take action. For instance, Australia is a strong proponent of inaction due to the problem of free riding. In defence of its mining industry, it has categorically stated that action against global warming is futile if limited to only a few countries. Thus, the concern of free riding is hindering the international community from taking action to curb global warming.
How can the global community successfully lead the issue of Global Warming?
It is evident now that the global community has failed to collaborate on global warming for various economic and socio-political reasons. Nonetheless, we must find ways through which the global community can steer the issue of global warming in the right direction. Some ways are suggested below.
Collaborative action on the Paris Climate Agreement
One way to do this is the universal implementation of the Paris Agreement. For this purpose, all nations must reduce emissions as committed in the Paris Agreement. Further, global leaders who have refused to do so must be convinced to take serious action.
Transfer of green technology and scientific knowledge to the developing world
Moreover, the developed world must commit to the cause by investing in climate-smart technology and research and transferring it to the developing world. This is the only remedy to the concerns of the global South that Western countries have progressed at their expense. In this way, investments that help developing countries shift to green technology will help build trust and enhance collaboration opportunities.
Development assistance to help poor countries regarding global warming issues
In addition, development assistance should be tied to climate-smart policies and projects. In this regard, developed countries should provide technical expertise and funds to help poor countries in a climate-friendly manner.
Poverty reduction and equitable distribution of global resources
Further, smart poverty reduction investments must be introduced to help poor people out of poverty. As global warming and poverty reinforce each other, it is critical to deal with poverty to reunite against global warming. According to the World Values Survey, climate-smart values such as recycling and efficient water use are directly related to affluence.
To critically evaluate the above discussion, it is clear that global warming is a serious issue that poses a serious threat to humanity. It also led to changing weather patterns; consequently, it has led to unfavourable conditions for many. It also poses grave food security and extreme weather-related disaster risks. In this regard, many attempts have been made by the international community, such as the Paris Climate Accord and the Copenhagen Climate Conference, to tackle this issue. However, they have failed to succeed in overcoming greenhouse gas emissions. So, the global community has fled rather than led the issue of Global Warming. It is high that the global South and North cooperated to overcome this severe challenge, and, especially, the North must assist poor countries technologically; as aptly said by Marshal McLuhan, ‘There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew’.
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