Renewable Revolution!


Climate change does pose significant threats to prospects for sustainable development. It impacts our environmental, economic, and social development. With climate change in our radar, our ability to meet basic needs to sustain life would be difficult. The behavior that we are carrying out currently may allow or disallow our use of planet earth by future generations. It is also very difficult for developing countries to develop sustainably due to lack of government policy, finance and adaption plans.

In “Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030” by Janet L. Sawin and William R. Moomaw, the focus is on sustainable development but by the reduction of energy usage by using it more efficiently and using mostly renewable energy resources.  “Humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change if we act now and adopt policies that reduce energy usage by unleashing the full potential of energy efficiency in concert with renewable energy resources” (Sawin & Moomsaw, 2009).  This is a valid statement because climate change is first and foremost a challenge to development.  Climate change is not just a pollution problem.  In Sawin and Moomsaw’s article, they also stated that “A combination of political will and the right policies can get the world on track to mitigate climate change in the near term while also meeting demand for energy services, providing energy access for the world’s poorest, boosting the global economy, bolstering energy security, and improving the natural environment and human health” (Sawin & Moomsaw, 2009).

According to “Integrating Development in Climate Change: A Framework Policy Discussion Paper on Key Elements for the Development of the Post-2012 Global Climate Policy Regime” by the South Centre, global cooperation to reduce developed countries’ climate footprint and support developing countries’ adoption and implementation of low carbon sustainable development methods should be a priority. In context of the climate change negotiations, there is hope for developing countries to form policies that would promote and aid sustainable development objectives. The South Centre proposed that the post-2012 framework should support the creation of an international economic system that supports and promotes economic development of developing countries (South Centre, 2007). However, certain aspects need to be accounted for such as the need of flexibility to properly determine what policies are needed for development as well as what is best for adaptation to climate change. Policy parameters for the design of economic and environmental policies that were projected by the South Centre are “…the development policy space for developing countries in the areas of tariff and non-tariff barriers, intellectual property, investment promotion and regulation, regional integration, industrial policy, and finance regulation; and the environment and carbon space to increase GHG emissions, to the extent that may be required to enable them to increase the standards of living of their peoples to levels commensurate with a decent and dignified way of life” (South Centre, 2007).




Sawin & Moomaw, Renewable revolution: low-carbon energy by 2030, Worldwatch Institute, 2009.

South Center, Integrating Development in Climate Change. Nov. 2007.



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Negotiations stall over financing in Bonn

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bonn_adp26_533After this weeks discussions in Germany, negotiations has stalled leading up to Lima. Developed countries were not able to agree to a deal on financing the developing nations in exchange for their commitment to reduce emissions. This will continue to play out all the way through Lime. How are developed nations going to meet their $100 Billion pledge by 2020? With financing pieces from the US falling through, it looks challenging, but to get developing nations on board to reduce GHG emissions, it must be done. Read more here about the developments.

The Glass is Half Full

You Control Climate Change

By Maeve Hogel

When examining different situations, people are often described to have a glass half full or half empty point of view. The glass half full people are the optimists, who always see a positive in any situation, whereas the glass half empty people tend to dwell on the negatives. In international relations, there are contrasting theories that in many ways reflect the glass scenario. Looking at the situation of climate change, realists believe that nations states’ personal interest for power will always come first, while liberalist think the self-interest can be overcome to obtain cooperation (Bova, 9-21). The voluntary efforts of many developing countries such as Costa Rica and Brazil demonstrates that liberalist theorists might just be correct that countries can reach cooperation when there is a mutual gain for everyone, not just for themselves.

            It is important first to understand liberalist theory better to see how climate change fits well under its beliefs. Liberalists are not naïve to human nature’s draw to make decisions based on self-interest. However, “liberal internationalists see many issue areas in which states have a strong mutual self-interest in working together to achieve absolute gains for the common good” (Habib, 14. Found Here). Although places may be affected to different extents, no country is safe from climate change. All peoples and countries share the environment therefore cooperation is completely necessary to combat the issue. However, being such a global issue gives countries an even stronger “mutual self-interest” in the matter. Liberalists believe, not that countries would act without receiving any personal gains, but rather that every country will receive a mutual gain which is what will lead to cooperation among all.

            David Held, Charles Roger and Eva-Maria Nag in their book, Climate Governance in the Developing World, provide several examples of countries whose individual efforts support the liberalist view that cooperation is possible. Developing countries, referred to as non-Annex 1 countries in climate policy speak, are responsible for about half of GHG emissions (Held, 7). Although historically now developed countries, such as the United States and Europe, caused the rise in temperature, developing countries will be continuing to grow in the future and therefore are crucial to climate change negotiations. If realists were correct, the self-interested, power seeking countries would gain most from continuing to grow and industrialize, telling the developed countries to essentially clean up the messed they caused. However, after the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, developing countries were able to make commitments called Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). These were not required but 44 developing countries decided to make a commitment to reductions of emissions by their own choice (Held, 3).

            Brazil and Costa Rica are among several developing countries that have gone above just a NAMA commitment and have really been leaders in climate change initiatives. Brazil, a country that has seen rapid economic growth and is a larger emitter due to deforestation, has made large efforts to cut back on deforestation and to decrease their emissions in that past several years (Held, 13). Costa Rica is a tiny country in comparison to Brazil and has not seen anywhere near the same rapid expansion and growth . Costa Rica though, like Brazil, has made big voluntary efforts to reduce their emissions. With a history rich in deforestation as well, Costa Rica has vowed to go many steps farther then Brazil in hoping to be the first carbon neutral country (Held, 14).

            Brazil and Costa Rica are not by any means the only countries to be voluntarily attempting to reduce their emissions. However, these two countries exemplify the liberalist’s belief that cooperation will be possible since all countries will gain, in the long run, from stopping the planet from continuing to warm. Of course there is still a long way to go when it comes to cooperation on climate change policies and initiatives and there are still plenty of countries that are not making large voluntary efforts. However, no one is saying the glass is completely full just yet, but it’s certainly not half empty.

Held, David, Charles Roger, and Eva-Maria Nag. Climate Governance in the Developing World. Cambridge, 2013. Print

Bova, R. How to think about world politics, realism and its critics. 2011.

Habib, Benjamin. Climate Change and International Relations Theory. 2011.