Politics of Global Warming

Politics Of Global Warming

The politics of global warming are complex due to numerous factors that arise from the global economy's complex interdependence on carbon dioxide emitting hydrocarbon energy sources and because carbon dioxide is directly implicated in global warming - making global warming a non-traditional environmental challenge:

  1. Implications to all aspects of a nation-state's economy - The vast majority of the world economy relies on energy sources or manufacturing techniques that release greenhouse gases at almost every stage of production, transportation, storage, delivery & disposal while a consensus of the world's scientists attribute global warming to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This intimate linkage between global warming and economic vitality implicates almost every aspect of a nation-state's economy;
  2. Perceived lack of adequate advanced energy technologies - Fossil fuel abundance and low prices continue to put pressure on the development of adequate advanced energy technologies that can realistically replace the role of fossil fuels - over 91% of the worlds energy is derived from fossil fuels and non carbon-neutral technologies. Developing countries do not have cost effective access to the advanced energy technologies that they need for development (most advanced technologies has been developed by and exist in the developed world). Without adequate and cost effective post-hydrocarbon energy sources, it is unlikely the countries of the developed or developing world would accept policies that would materially affect their economic vitality or economic development prospects;
  3. Industrialization of the developing world - As developing nations industrialize their energy needs increase and since conventional energy sources produce carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide emissions of developing countries are beginning to rise at a time when the scientific community, global governance institutions and advocacy groups are telling the world that carbon dioxide emissions should be decreasing. Without access to cost effective and abundant energy sources many developing countries see climate change as a hindrance to their unfettered economic development;
  4. Metric selection (transparency) and perceived responsibility / ability to respond - Among the countries of the world, disagreements exist over which greenhouse gas emission metrics should be used like total emissions per year, per capita emissions per year, CO2 emissions only, deforestation emissions, livestock emissions or even total historical emissions. Historically, the release of carbon dioxide has not been historically even among all nation-states and nation-states have challenges with determining who should restrict emissions and at what point of their industrial development they should be subject to such commitments;
  5. Vulnerable developing countries and developed country legacy emissions - Some developing nations blame the developed world for having created the global warming crisis because it was the developed countries that emitted most of the carbon dioxide over the twentieth century and vulnerable countries perceive that it should be the developed countries that should pay to address the challenge;
  6. Consensus-driven global governance models - The global governance institutions that evolved during the 20th century are all consensus driven deliberative forums where agreement is difficult to achieve and even when agreement is achieved it is almost impossible to enforce;
  7. Well organized and funded special-interest lobbying bodies - Special interest lobbying by well organized groups distort and amplify aspects of the challenge (environmental lobbying, energy industry lobbying, other special interest lobbying);
  8. Politicization of climate science - Although there is a consensus on the science of global warming and its likely effects - some special interests groups work to suppress the consensus while others work to amplify the alarm of global warming. All parties that engage in such acts add to the politicization of the science of global warming. The result is a clouding of the reality of the global warming problem.

The focus areas for global warming politics are Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance, Technology and Losses which are well quantified and studied but the urgency of the global warming challenge combined with the implication to almost every facet of a nation-state's economic interests places significant burdens on the established largely-voluntary global institutions that have developed over the last century; institutions that have been unable to effectively reshape themselves and move fast enough to deal with this unique challenge. Rapidly developing countries who see traditional energy sources as a means to fuel their development, well funded aggressive environmental lobbying groups and an established fossil fuel energy paradigm boasting a mature and sophisticated political lobbying infrastructure all combine to make global warming politics extremely polarized. Distrust between developed and developing countries at most international conferences that seek to address the topic add to the challenges. Further adding to the complexity is the advent of the Internet and the development of media technologies like blogs and other mechanisms for disseminating information that enable the exponential growth in production and dissemination of competing points of view which make it nearly impossible for the development and dissemination of an objective view into the enormity of the subject matter and its politics.

Read more about Politics Of Global Warming:  Nontraditional Environmental Challenge, Special Interests and Lobbying By Non-country Interested Parties, Politicization of Climate Science

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