Climate Negotiations Stalled: Who is to Blame?

As the imminent threat of global warming becomes more and more apparent, global leaders are shying away from making concrete commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. A replacement for the Kyoto Protocol was slated to come out of climate talks in Copenhagen this December. Now, however, many world leaders and climate policy experts are expecting a delay of six months to a year before a binding treaty is agreed upon.

A number of commentators are placing blame on the United States for failing to enact emissions-capping legislation on a domestic level. However, the larger problem is the political impasse between developed and developing nations who both point the finger at the other to make larger emissions cuts. The argument goes something like this: developed nations started it. (Remember the industrial revolution?) On the other hand, “rapidly developing” countries like China and India are some of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas levels at present. Both sides refuse to act before a firm commitment is made by the other. According to The Guardian (UK):

During the latest round of negotiations in Barcelona, developing nations walked out over the America’s refusal to commit to cuts in carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the countries with the most real stake in the climate change debate merely have to sit back and watch. Poor nations are on average hardest hit by the effects of climate change such as shifting weather patterns and rising water levels. The African continent is seeing an increase in droughts and floods which contribute to the already serious issue of food production. To further illustrate this point, here’s a previous post about global climate change risk:

The global risk analysts at Maplecroft have ranked regional climate change risk based on the following criteria: economy; resource security, ecosystems; poverty, development and health; population, settlement and infrastructure; and institutions, governance and social capital.

Top three most vulnerable countries: (1) Somalia, (2) Haiti, (3) Afghanistan.

Top three emitters of CO2 from energy use: (1) Australia, (2) USA, (3) Canada.

By Mary Tharin

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Filed under Environment, Foreign Policy

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