Global Governance: Environmental


UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

This was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 

It recognises the importance of 'stabilizing greenhouse gas emmissons' and so established the context in which all subsequent UN Climate Change conferences have taken place 

However, it failed to achieve a consensus between the north and south about how the cost and burden of reducing reliance on fossil fuels should be balanced 

They had anticipated that the developed countries would take the lead - this is highly controversial especially in the US  

So the target of stabilising emmissions by 2000 proved to be a dead letter 

This is often the case for climate change negotiatins because of an inability to agree over the balance of the burden of action 

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

An intergovernmental body that provides the un with objective scientific evidence about the origins, progress and impact of climate change 

Its focus on achieving a consensus between the world's most eminant climate change scientists and government neutrality = reports are treated with great respect 

2007 = most influential and dramatic report stated that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observd increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentration. 

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How to tackle environmental issues

Environmentalism agrees over sustainable development but there are sharo divisions between shallow and deep green ecology


  • This represents the mainstream/ reformist approach to climate change 
  • Recognises that humans are influencing climate change and believe it is importacne that the global community takes action to reduce carbon emissions before it is too late 
  • seeks to do this within the existing free-market/ capitalist economic structure without diminishing economic growth or material well-being 
  • optimistic = endeavours to resolve th problem through market forces and technological innovation 

Governments can also provide incentives to make green choices 

  • 2010 = public bike hires in places like London, Manchester, Oxford and Glasgow = cut down car use 
  • congestion charges in cities (london/stockholm/milan) to discourage traffic to improve air quality
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How to tackle environmental issues

  • Government incentives to install solar panels = 2014 Domestic Renewal Heat Incentive was introduced in the UK to encourage renwable energy usage 
  • In the UK electric cars that cost less than £40,000 are exempt from road tax
  • Since 2015 all supermarkets charge at least 5p for a single use plastic bag
  • The EU requires member states to adopt energy-consumption labelling for most domestic appliances - providing an incentive to make greener choices

Green capitalism also provides consumer incentives to make environmentally friendly decisions:

  • Electric cars are becoming increasingly fashionable (Tesla S and Nissan Leaf) and are creating positives to going green - through supply and demand capitalism can increase the production of environmentally friendly products
  • Domestic consumers seek to heat and light their homes more cost effciently making it more beneficial for building to designed attractively at low costs - energy proficiency provides incentives for others to do the same = One Angel Square in Manchester
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How to tackle environmental issues


  • Represents the more radical approach
  • Mainstream attempts to protect the environment are inherently flawed because they are motivated by a selfish desire
  • They draw no distinctions between the various types of life on Earth
  • Should love and protect the planet out of love for all the life it provides for.
  • Idealistic justification for environmentalism rather than the pragmatism of shallow green ecology
  • Rachel Carson = we must limit out human footprint
  • James Lovelock = he argued that the earth was a living being (gaia) and that as such human beings havea duty to protect which sustains them out of love not self interest
  • Demand a paradigm shift in how we interpret the environment = eco centric approach
  • nothing is for the advantage of humans but because we have no right to disrupt the natural biosphere
  • views shallow green ecology as piecemeal, ineffective and self serving
  • Capitalism cannot provice the way forward as it is based in greed and exploitation
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How to tackle environmental issues

1. Humans consume only which they need to survive

2. We must accept limitations to our lifestyle to reorder the natural biosphere

3. Governments should no longer prioritise economic growth - the green party is committed to zero or negative growth


  • SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT = development that fufils our needs of today without so damaging the environment that the well-being and survival of future generations is not threatened = the UN's sustainable development goals (2000-2015 = they have been extended to 2030)
  • TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS = the overgrazing of the common land ny selfish individuals meant it became useless for everyone - this is being replicated today on a global scale where states and TNCs put the immediate gratification of wants above the sustainability of the commons = harder to combat climate change
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Obstacles to cooperation/agreement


  • States resent the limitations being enforced on their sovereignty
  • Unwillingness to accpet externally imposed targets and legally enforceable targets = US refused to accept the 1997 Kyoto protocol and why the 2009 copenhagen conference ended without mandatory cuts being implemented
  • Realist state egoism = has made the resolution to a long term collective dillemma that much more difficult = 2015 Paris was only agreed when states could have their own INDCs without compliance to a supranational authority
  • i was elected to represent the citizens of pittsburg not paris


  • The developed world has been poluting the world since the industrial revolution and so the developing world agured that they should have a greater burden
  • TNCs often outsource to the developing world = global south's emissions have increased without the north being held responsible
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Obstacles to cooperation/agreement

  • no agreement on how pollution should be measured = developed world favours total output whereas the developing world prefers per capita
  • us 17.7 tonnes per capita wheras china is only 6.5
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Civil society and non state actors

1. Greenpeace

2. Friends of the Earth

3. Global Footprint Network

4. Citizen's climate lobby

5. Extinction Rebellion

These raise awareness, lobby governments for change

The most recent has been the Extinction Rebellion protests throughout london and attacking TNCs

But the the Fridays for Future movement with Greta Thundberg (spoke at the UN) = students strike for climate

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