No Borders for the CCP

mayors1

Cities are some of the most populated areas around the world, which make them a practical starting point for raising awareness and initiating action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are an important area of concentration for production and consumption, therefore a number of environmental issues arise in cities around the world. The Cities for Climate Protection is a transnational network, which concentrates on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban spaces. “The ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection program originated as both climate change and sustainability began to become significant issues for local authorities.”[1]This network effectively advances its objectives with respect to governing climate change by promoting renewable energy and clean development in cities worldwide. The actions performed by the Cities for Climate Protection emphasize how critical local governments are in the response to global climate change.

Participation in the Cities for Climate Protection is different than other transnational networks, in which the CCP is not an exclusive organization and they “seek to recruit as many members as possible.”[2] Once a program member, the CCP network is committed to assisting in the reduction of local emissions through, “a series of five milestones of progress, involving conducting an emissions inventory, setting an emissions reduction target, formulating an action plan, implementing policies, and monitoring progress.”[3] The ICLEI’s offers assistance for cities to pursue these five milestones. The Cities for Climate Protection program, as a transnational governance network, is both beneficial at local and international levels. Cities that are members of the program have access to financial resources, interact in a support network compromised of international cities, and have the ability to voice their environmental concerns. The CCP Australia, for example, has access to national funding specifically set aside for the program. Success has been seen through the CCP Australia resulting in, “saving 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007/8 and a total of 18 million tonnes since the program started.”[4]

The campaign of the CCP focuses on a collective effort made by cities, which creates a more effective route rather than having cities competing with each other. The CCP encourages membership by focusing on appealing strategies such as cost reductions. The U.S. city of Denver, Colorado has its own success with the CCP, “Denver’s municipal government invested $1.6 million into installing light-emitting diodes into all red traffic lights and ‘don’t walk’ signs across the city. The LEDs, having longer life spans and lower energy requirements, led to a $5million savings in energy use and maintenance for the city.”[5]The success of the CCP shows that tackling the issues of global climate change can be extremely productive even at a local level.

Growth of the CCP has also led to a global effort against climate change. “Today the CCP has 674 members responsible for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”[6] Teamwork seems to be a recurring theme in governance for global climate change. The CCP and other transnational networks can collectively contribute to mitigation of global climate change. The ICLEI has set up a network compromised of strong, diverse local organizations, which together will improve communities around the world and work together against the larger threat of climate change.

 

 

 

[1]Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 55, Print

[2] Ibid,68.

[3] Ibid, 62.

[4] Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 67, Print

[5]Fay, Chris. “Think Locally, Act Globally: Lessons to Learn from the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign.” Innovations: A Journal of Politics 7 (2007): 1-12. Web.

[6] Ibid.

The ICLEI: Making a Difference One City At a Time.

Once the issue of global climate change became apparent through publications like the IPCC’s first report, international groups around the world saw it in their best interest to take action in combatting climate change. The UNFCCC is one result of this thinking and the ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) is another. The ICLEI, under its tag line “local governments for sustainability”, is a network of 1,000 local governments in 84 countries aiming for more sustainable, resilient, resource-efficient, bio-diverse, and low carbon communities and green urban economies. In fact, the ICLEI (created in 1990, put into action in 1991) was taking action before the UNFCCC was even created. In its 22-years of existence thus far, the ICLEI has been fairly successful in reaching its aims as far as anyone can tell, but like many other transnational networks, the effectiveness of the ICLEI’s efforts are next to impossible to check, making it harder to determine its overall level of success.

Transnational governance involves taking action against climate change outside of international regimes by networks made up largely of local and sub-national governments and NGOs, mixing both the private and public sectors (Bulkeley and Newell, 53-56). Because transnational networks do not have the same level of legality as international regimes to enforce compliance, to reach their goals they rely on “soft” powers in the realms of information-sharing, capacity-building and implementation, and regulation (Bulkeley and Newell, 56).

Just as Bulkeley and Newell write, the ICLEI works towards climate change governance through the three above-mentioned soft powers. All member-localities share practices and experimental projects carried out in their communities, allowing others to learn from their experiences. Capacity-building and implementation efforts include training local leaders in sustainability initiatives and distributing expertise from leaders in sustainable fields. ICLEI’s soft regulations consist of the membership requirement of making self-determined sustainable development goals, paired with network framework for actions and alliances (“Who is ICLEI?”). Additionally, ICLEI increase international cooperation as well, partnering with national governments, foundations, educational institutes, international institutions, private companies, NGOs, and other networks of local governments (“Our Members”).

The progress of the ICLEI is hard to track. Because ICLEI’s members are not in a box, it is hard to determine which efforts can be attributed to ICLEI membership versus other network memberships, or even the country’s UNFCCC membership.  There have been some remarkable efforts, though, that the ICLEI has been able to track. One of the first programs under ICLEI, Cities for Climate Protection (CCP), has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 6 million tons of CO2 equivalents (“Who Is ICLEI?”), or about 5x the amount of Mexico’s 2011 annual greenhouse gas emissions (Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres).  In terms of capacity-building and implementation efforts, there have been over 1,000 capacity-building projects carried out since the start of ICLEI (“Who is ICLEI?”).

Looking at these successful data, one can see that the ICLEI has had success in helping to govern climate change by giving various actors a voice. Instead of just working with nation-states as international regimes do, the ICLEI and other transnational networks work with all levels of actors from all different sectors. Transnational networks will not be able to combat climate change on their own, but as the recent history of the UNFCCC and COPs like COP 15 exemplify, the nation-states are not doing as well as many hoped in combating climate change on their own either. Thus, as long as transnational governance efforts like ICLEI are doing no harm, which from their data this looks highly unlikely, any help they can add outside of the international regime’s work is greatly needed and appreciated. Only a truly cooperative and interconnected, multi-lateral, multi-sector effort will have shot at combating climate change at the levels the earth needs.

Works Cited

Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2011. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2011

“Our Members”. ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. Web. 27 Sep. 2014.

“Who Is ICLEI?”. ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. Web. 27 Sep. 2014.

Exploitation At It’s Finest

shopping cart earth

 

http://www.earthrights.net/images/shopping_cart_earth.png
The Full Shopping Cart

Exploitation At It’s Finest

One idea in the passage that does not allow for interpretation is that humankind is exploiting the world for its resources that help us survive, but this exploitation of earth for our needs is coming to an end with global climate change negotiations and adaptations on the rise. Another widely understood component is that climate change has already struck and is striking currently. In addition, the Parties should be preparing for what has yet to come by reducing the triggers of climate change and by cleaning up the damaging effects that it has already caused.

While there are grave and irreparable damages that climate change has and could cause, it is not the reason to stop trying to bring it to a halt. Even the uncertainty of scientific evidence is not a good enough reason. Earth as we know it will soon disappear because of our doings. We are the reason for it being in this state. One just wonders just how the should go about reducing or stopping the effects of climate change. We want to reduce or stop it where we will benefit the most but at the lowest possible cost. Just how will we do it though?

Global benefits are spoken about in the article. However, there is a question of who will ultimately benefit. Will it be the developed or developing nations? Developed nations carry more CO2 emission weight but developing nations carry some too. Developed nations are more powerful though, which may play a role on who benefits more ultimately. Also, there are implications in figuring out a solution to this problem in a cost effective way. Who will figure that out and how will they figure that out? It is still very vague and up in the air. Cost effectiveness is a factor that drives the solution but it’s not the solution as a whole.

 

http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/mdg_press_clips_-_week_18.html
Happy Earth Day!

Climate Change Governance Efforts: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

the good the bad and the ugly

In a history class, the covered material often consists of past societies’ wars, plagues, rebellions and leadership transitions. Whereas, it seems that periods of peace and prosperity are glimpsed over in the history books and its importance is disregarded.  This neglect for positivity is demonstrated in the climate change’s history where the efforts are often described as failures.  Global climate change is a multifaceted crisis and evidently does not have a straightforward solution. However to describe the notion of a “cooperative response” at the COP20 convention as “naïve and contrary to the record of human history” is unfair (Bova, pg 249-50). Bova’s realist perspective is supported from aspects of past climate change governance; yet, the constructivist international relations paradigm is a more appropriate theory due to the climate change policy landmarks, the global participation in the climate change crisis and negotiations’ advancement through science.

The previous efforts to govern climate change refute the realism view due to: the international efforts and acceptance of climate change, the advancement of international institutions and the number of climate change milestones throughout history.  First of all, realism is a power-based regime theory in which states behave to benefit their own-self-interest politically, socially and economically.  This theory may be applicable for some countries, but holistically countries have worked cohesively on the climate change crisis. One example of successful international climate change relations is the emergence of various institutions, consisting of countries that share similar climate change interests and goals.  The UNFCC and COP are two examples of decision-making bodies that have world-wide involvement to tackle climate change.  Other institutions consisting of SBI, POS, EU and G77 are divided based on geography, current conditions, issues and interests; they are all involved in globally collective institutions and are not motivated by their countries own self-interest.  The advancement of international institutions has led to the organization and planning of climate change governance, which is the first step in the negotiation process.

In contradiction of the realistic view, the history of climate change has achieved many historic milestones, especially, since the knowledge that human-induced climate change was not accepted in the scientific world until the 1970s.  In the last 44 years, climate change has resulted in a change of beliefs, “deepening of cooperation”, “firming–up obligation to act”, “identified problems pressing for a need for action” and the creation of “concrete, legally binding emission reduction commitments” (Bulkeley & Newell 20).  The international acceptance of climate change lead to a successful moment in history was when the UNFCC was agreed upon to deal with climate change. Afterwards the Montreal Protocol was passed to stop the use of chemicals that caused the depletion in the ozone. Another success was Kyoto Protocol that binded 38 countries to reduce their emissions (5.2% below levels in 1990) by 2008-12.  Despite the United States’ refusal to ratify agreement, overall the EU and G77 did not follow the United States’ self-interested footsteps. Instead they acted in regards to the knowledge that climate change was a pressing issue and become even more determined for Kytoto Protocol to succeed.  Regardless of climate change’s complexity and difficulties, there was a strength in climate change’s history for countries around the globe were able to work together through creating institutions and policies.

Although the climate change governance issues had momentum, not every country is participating the global prevention of climate change outlook and behaved with the self-interest as a priority.  One of these self-interested nations is the United States for they focused on the developing countries being required to follow protocols rather than focusing on its own high greenhouse gas emissions.  One example was when the United States refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol even though they helped develop it, 150 other countries signed it and are highly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.  Another realistic issue is that there are more components that require attention in the next conference. One component is that developing countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa have become heavy greenhouse gas emitting countries.   These countries now need to be more involved in the negotiation process and have to make vast changes in their organization. From the past, it is evident that all countries including developing nations need to be included/ restricted in the next agreement. Another component is the strong involvement of businesses for in the past countries did not want to make a mistake economically by altering their energy usage. Money necessary for the mitigations and adaptations strategies to be successful, so the involvement of businesses is vital. Although these components have proven to be difficult in the past, there is a clear need for countries to action from the scientific knowledge.

Although the history of climate change is foggy with self-interest intentions, it mainly consists of countries that have acted due to the acquirement of knowledge.  First of all, without science/ knowledge, the globe would not be aware of climate change and no efforts to govern climate change would be made. Specifically, the history of climate change begins at the Villa Conference of 1980 when scientist were asked to see if climate change was an issue.  From their science, it was realized that further investigation was required and WMO, UEP, ICSU were all created to define climate changes risks.  These organizations were key players in the efforts to govern climate change.  Most importantly, the most credible source used for climate change is the IPCC which is composed of a variety of scientist whom inform the globe about climate change.  The IPCC report determines how countries act towards climate change, which explains that the constructivist international relations theory is the most applicable for understanding the climate change governance.

Although, there are aspects of power-based international relations theory seen throughout the history of climate change, it seems that most of the efforts were based upon knowledge from scientists. Science has played a detrimental role in climate change governance for resulted in global participation and acceptance of climate change.  Although, climate negotiations will be difficult, if countries rely on the pressing dangers that science has demonstrated in the IPCC reports, countries can work together to avoid such issues and avoid the outcome of the youtube video below.

Which international relations theory will you choose?

The world in which we live in is made up of optimists and pessimists. There are those who always look for the bright side in a given situation and then there are those who just expect the worst. In terms of international relations, we call the optimists the liberals and constructivists and we call the pessimists the realists. Liberals believe that global cooperation can be achieved and is an alternative to power politics. Constructivists are a bit different. They believe that change in world politics can transpire without having to change the entire structure of the international system. Realists on the other hand think that everyone is in it for themselves. It is all a game of who can get the most power between sovereign states.

According to Russell Bova’s book “How the World Works”, “While liberals and constructivists see global problems like the environment pushing states toward cooperation and global solutions, U.S. nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol and the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen reinforce realist skepticism. Indeed, realists see those environmental problems as yet another potential source of international conflict” (p.248). Realists see that international conflicts will arise such as competition for scarce resources. Just like the power game, a race will start regarding who can get the most of what is running out—let’s face it, the bigger country with the most power will win.

If every single country decides to cooperate and solutions are created for our global problems, all might be well and go smoothly…NOT! This is where the question of governance for whom comes into play. Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell addressed this question pretty well in “Governing Climate Change.” They discussed three areas where issues arise regarding global problems. The questions of who is responsible, who pays for action on mitigation and adaption, and who bears the costs of actions and inactions pops up. The countries that have contributed the least amount of carbon emissions which would be the developing nations, are actually much more susceptible to the effects of climate change than the large actors. Richer countries have the ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, Bangladesh is a country that lies below sea level. When areas in Bangladesh are hit hard and homes, lands, family, as well as many other things are lost, who comes to their rescue? It’s certainly not their government because they cannot afford it. These people living in these areas have to fend for themselves and establish a whole new life in the slums of a city. They have to start from scratch. However, when the Northeastern coast was hit by hurricane Sandy, shelters, food, repairs, and so much more were provided to those who needed the aid. The government had funds to aid those in need and also had money to repair the damages. In New York City, the subways were drained, houses near beaches were fixed, and even places such as South Street Seaport were repaired almost immediately. A big and powerful country like the United States has the ability to go back to our daily routines. Countries like Bangladesh do not.

Climate change was caused by the development of the North. The United States has contributed twenty percent towards global emissions. The United States alone caused this much damage, so why should others pay the price? Ultimately, can all of the countries in the world cooperate and come up with global solutions when the United States did not even participate in the Kyoto Protocol?

 

https://xworlds3d.wordpress.com/tag/aiesec-moldova/
https://xworlds3d.wordpress.com/tag/aiesec-moldova/

Cooperation: The Driving Force in Climate Governance

UN flag

The looming uncertainties of climate change are an imperative call-for-action for swift international cooperation between nations in order to reduce emissions and “to achieve…stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”[1]  But is it really practical to expect such universal and broad-based partnership among nations with such drastically polar interests, perspectives, and opinions?  An analysis of the historical evidence shown from previous climate governance negotiations, commitments, and actions validates the liberal school’s expectation of international cooperation over a realist’s skepticism moving forward in efforts to mitigate climate change.

The realist school of international relations theory argues that nations act out of their own self-interest and from a fundamental struggle for power over other nations, and thus hardly ever cooperate on an international level.[2]  However, such cooperation is the main force for action in the climate governance arena; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has produced significant agreements[3] by major international actors aimed at greenhouse gas emissions reductions, which endorses the liberal institutionalist school’s assertion that international institutions “mitigate anarchy and facilitate international cooperation.”[4]  Large numbers of nations from all different backgrounds have taken action through the UNFCCC structure to reduce emissions, whether through legally-binding commitments (Annex I nations) or on their own accord (non-Annex I nations).  Forty-four developing countries have submitted Nationally Accepted Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) from 2009 to 2012[5] outlining their plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while under no legal obligation to do so, which contradicts the realist assertion that, when given the opportunity to, a nation will free-ride off the efforts of another.[6]  This elevation of the common good over national self-interest undercuts realism’s core tenet that all international relations are inherently power struggles; nations of sometimes opposing stances (e.g. the current tension between the Russian Federation and the European Union over Ukraine) have put aside their differences and taken meaningful international action to address the growing specter of climate change.

A strong example supporting liberalism is the Kyoto Protocol.  If realism were true in climate governance, it would have been expected for the agreement to have floundered and failed after US pulled out of the negotiations in 2001; however, “…the absence of the United States served to galvanize the European Union and G77 + China into further action, and with the Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 it entered into force.”[7]  This signals that the international institution of the UNFCCC and the cooperative attitudes of many nations in the negotiations prevail over actions of single nations, and verifies the general alignment between climate governance and the liberal school of thought.

A major factor in the liberal framing of cooperation is the concept of confidence-building measures, which “develop the trust and confidence necessary for resolution of larger conflicts.”[8]  Previous agreements made during the UNFCCC function in this capacity, as progress has already been made, but there is still more work to be done.  Emissions for all Annex I parties (most of the major emitters of the world) including the US have decreased by 6% from 1990-2008[9] and “together, the commitments made by developed and developing countries cover more than 80 per cent of global emissions, and, if delivered, could reduce emissions from BAU by 6.7-7.7 billon tonnes.”[10]

One of the criticisms realists argue against international institutions like the UNFCCC is that there is a lack of enforcement of a nation’s actions as they align against their previous commitments, and, thus, anarchy reigns in the world politics.  However, the enforcement arm of the UNFCCC ensures that nations not just give “lip-service” to emissions reduction but actually follow through on their commitments, with the threat of strict penalties and increased emissions reductions targets.[11]  This added accountability lends strength to the negotiation process and final commitments agreed upon by the Parties, and mitigates anarchy by restricting nations’ behaviors.

Given the evidence presented by previous agreements and negotiations, climate governance can best be described through the liberal school’s lens rather than realism’s because of the scope and durability of international cooperation that has been previously observed.  It can be expected that, moving forward in the coming years and at COP20 in Lima in December, this broad-based partnership and interaction between nations can be the rule, and not the exception.

[1] “Article 2: Objective”, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed September 11th, 2014.  http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/background/items/1353.php

[2] Russell Bova, How the World Works: A Brief Survey of International Relations (New York, NY: Longman Publishing, 2011), 8-19. [3] Namely the Kyoto Protocol (2005), the Bali Action Plan (2007), the Copenhagen Accord (2009), the Cancun Agreements (2010), and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (2012).

[4] Bova, 21.

[5] David Held, Charles Roger, and Eva-Maria Nag, Climate Governance in the Developing World (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013), 3.

[6] Bova, 241.

[7] Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell, Governing Climate Change (New York, NY: Routledge, 2010), 23.

[8] Bova, 20.

[9] “Compilation and synthesis of fifth national communications: Executive Summary”, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed September 11th, 2014.  http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2011/sbi/eng/inf01.pdf

[10] Held, Roger, and Nag, 3.

[11] “An Introduction to the Kyoto Protocol Compliance Mechanism”, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed September 11th, 2014. http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/compliance/items/3024.php