Political dimensions of Climate change
Climate science has detected those human activities are changing the climate at a speed, which is, compared to changes in the geological past, fast and with significant consequences for economy and societies as well as ecosystems.
Since both adapting to all changes and avoiding all climate change seems hardly impossible, societies of the world have to decide about the right mix of adaptation to and mitigation of man‐made climate change. Deciding about this is a political task, not a scientific task.
Thus “Climate” is made up of at least two competing concepts, one being a scientific construction, and the other a string of social constructions (with the scientific one also being a special type of social construction). The result is that climate change becomes a post-normal science, with urgent decisions, inherent uncertainties, values in dispute and costly risks. Typical for such a situation is that representatives of opposing sides adopt a position of knowledge superiority, scientists now, priests in the past, so that arriving in a social negotiation process at acceptable “Solutions” is fraught with heavy conflicts and significant delays as well as demands for “expert governments”.
Science is a social process, but is usually considered special in its ability to correctly deconstruct, analyze and describe complex phenomena
Climate change creates injustices in who caused the problem, who is suffering worst and first, and who is taking action. Power between nations and social groups drives unequal disaster risks and the “compounded vulnerabilities” of poor peoples and nations, and has led to gridlock in United Nations negotiations. The course reviews social and political dimensions of local and national adaptation efforts, media dynamics, collective and individual denial, and the rise of climate social movements. The human emissions of billions of tons of gases known to trap heat in the
Plight and Issues of Climate Refugees
Climate change refugees can be defined as people who were forced to relocate across national borders due to the crisis which was a result of global warming. The victims of climate change, unlike the people who have migrated due to political upheaval, cannot obtain financial and medical aid, food, and shelter from the state and international organizations because they are not recognized under any conventions. They have not been given any official status and acknowledgment which could make it easier for them to seek asylum. Along with the rising sea levels, the desertification of land will make them uninhabitable and millions of people will have to flee from their homes in the next century. They will have to relocate to safer grounds. There is a dire need that the global community accepts them as the developed countries have a huge role to play in environmental degradation.
concept of environmental refugees was introduced by Lester Brown in the 1970s and it entered the common term list in the United Nations Environment Program Policy paper titled ‘Environmental refugees’ in 1985. There is absolutely no recognition for climate change refugees. The UNHCR refused the need to categorize climate change refugees as a distinct category. The need to research the effects on human migration and population relocation has never been greater as climate change and extreme weather events progressively threaten the conventional ecosystems and livelihoods of the whole population. Environmental changes have directly affected the patterns in human settlement and have led to destruction in agriculture farming and ecosystem leading to depletion of natural resources such as freshwater, affecting the lives of people. These conflicts over environmental and ecological change can infringe basic human rights and these violations are enhanced due to displacement. It was the first time in the history of climatic negotiations that displacement by climate was mentioned at COP21. There was a discussion on establishing a task force on climate displacement and approaches through which it can be minimized.
Approach Taken by United Nations and The European Union
The definition under the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees has not been extended to climate refugees. There is no legal protection or framework for them but there exist other compacts that can be used to protect them and their rights. The most prominent and reliable is the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which over 193 countries have accepted. It has 169 targets out of which several address climate change.
Sustainable Development Goals
The politics of climate change results from different perspectives on how to respond to climate change. Global warming is driven largely by the emissions of greenhouse gases due to human economic activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels, certain industries like cement and steel production, and land use for agriculture and forestry. Since the industrial revolution, fossil fuels have provided the main source of energy for economic and technological development. The centrality of fossil fuels and other carbon-intensive industries have resulted in much resistance to climate friendly policy, despite widespread scientific consensus that such policy is necessary.
Efforts to mitigate climate change have been prominent on the international political agenda since the 1990s, and are also increasingly addressed at national and local level. Climate change is a complex global problem. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribute to global warming across the world, regardless of where the emissions originate. Yet the impact of global warming varies widely depending on how vulnerable a location or economy is to its effects. While global warming is on the whole having negative impact, which is predicted to worsen as heating increases, some regions have benefited from climate change. Ability to benefit from both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources vary substantially from nation to nation.
Different responsibilities, benefits and climate related threats faced by the world’s nations contributed to early climate change conferences producing little beyond general statements of intent to address the problem, and non-binding commitments from the developed countries to reduce emissions. In the 21st century, there has been increased attention to mechanisms like climate finance in order for vulnerable nations to adapt to climate change. In some nations and local jurisdictions, climate friendly policies have been adopted that go well beyond what was committed to at international level. Yet local reductions in GHG emission that such policies achieve will not slow global warming unless the overall volume of GHG emission declines across the planet.
Human driven global warming represents an existential threat to human civilisation and much of earth’s flora and fauna. Global heating is driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). As of 2021, average temperatures have already risen about 1.2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This rise has already contributed to the extinction of numerous plants and animals and to many thousands of human deaths. At the 2015 Paris conference, nations agreed to make efforts to keep further rises well below 2 °C, and to try to limit them to 1.5 °C. Specific actions to achieve this have not yet been decided. With existing policies and commitments, global warming is projected to reach about 3 °C by 2100. The impact of global warming could be worsened by the possible triggering of irreversible climate tipping points.
In the worst case, feedback from mutually reinforcing cascading tipping points could lead to runaway climate change beyond human ability to control; though this is considered highly unlikely. Considerable economic disruption is predicted even if political agreement is strong enough to achieve the RCP 2.6 pathway, which is likely to keep warming between 1.5 °C and 2 °C. Among the risks of 2 °C warming are sea level rises that could devastate various Island nations, along with vulnerable countries and regions with much low-lying land, such as Bangladesh or Florida. A 3 °C rise would sharply increase occurrences of deadly wet-bulb temperatures, potentially leading to the deaths of tens of millions of people who live in the tropics, unless they are able to migrate or seek shelter in reliably air-conditioned areas. Various disruptive impacts from a rise above 5 °C are projected to threaten the ongoing existence of human civilisation.
Fossil fuel companies: Traditional fossil fuel corporations stand to lose from stricter global warming regulations, though there are exceptions. The fact fossil fuel companies are engaged in energy trading might mean that their participation in trading schemes and other such mechanisms could give them a unique advantage, so it is unclear whether every traditional fossil fuel companies would always be against stricter global warming policies. As an example, Enron, a traditional gas pipeline company with a large trading desk heavily lobbied the United States government to regulate CO2: they thought that they would dominate the energy industry if they could be at the center of energy trading.
Farmers and agribusiness are an important lobby but vary in their views on climate change and agriculture and, for example, the role of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
Financial Institutions: Financial institutions generally support policies against global warming, particularly the implementation of carbon trading schemes and the creation of market mechanisms that associate a price with carbon. These new markets require trading infrastructures, which banking institutions can provide. Financial institutions are also well positioned to invest, trade and develop various financial instruments that they could profit from through speculative positions on carbon prices and the use of brokerage and other financial functions like insurance and derivative instruments.
Environmental groups: Environmental advocacy groups generally favor strict restrictions on CO2 emissions. Environmental groups, as activists, engage in raising awareness.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency companies: companies in wind, solar and energy efficiency generally support stricter global warming policies. They expect their share of the energy market to expand as fossil fuels are made more expensive through trading schemes or taxes.
Nuclear power companies: support and benefit from carbon pricing or subsidies of low-carbon energy production, as nuclear power produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
Electricity distribution companies: may lose from solar panels but benefit from electric vehicles.
Traditional retailers and marketers: traditional retailers, marketers, and the general corporations respond by adopting policies that resonate with their customers. If “being green” provides customer appeal, then they could undertake modest programs to please and better align with their customers. However, since the general corporation does not make a profit from their particular position, it is unlikely that they would strongly lobby either for or against a stricter global warming policy position.
Medics: often say that climate change and air pollution can be tackled together and so save millions of lives.
Information and communications technology companies: say their products help others combat climate change, tend to benefit from reductions in travel, and many purchase green electricity.