Step up action and adapt to ‘new climate reality’
Climate change is one major concern of the twenty-first century which constantly threatening the existence of human being in the planet earth. The idea of climate governance came in the late twentieth century to tackle any possible future catastrophe due to the depleting nature of climate. But the challenges of climate change remain at the twenty-first century. This is because of the politics behind the climate governance. We can see that the major capitalist economies often try to give less weight to the issue of climate change and ignore their responsibilities to tackle climate.
Major parties in climate change governance
In climate change governance, there involved different types of actors. According to Bulkeley and Newell, there are three main institutions in climate governance. They are secretariat of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of Parties (COP) which is ultimate decision making body in climate negotiations and the lastly, there are Subsidiary Bodies on Implementation (SBI) and Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group.
There is also Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which is hostile to action on climate change. In contrast, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and advisory group Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) which advocate for climate change negotiations. There also G77+ China coalition which fall in middle ground. Also there are US, European Union as major stakeholders.
Many measurements have already taken to fight against the climate issues. The first major milestones in the history of climate diplomacy are the provided framework of action on the issue of climate change in 1992. Then the signing of Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which binds 38 industrialized countries to reduce emission, develop common but differentiated responsibility and flexible mechanisms. And more recently the Paris agreement concluded in 2015.
Debated issues in climate change governance
There are some common debated issues which really hamper the international climate negotiations.
l First one is the debate between scientific knowledge production and political influence. The IPCC which was established in 1988, made up of world leading scientists to provide expert input into the climate negotiations. But as epistemic community, it severely criticized for being politically influenced in knowledge production. Powerful states often used this as a tool to counter its claim.
l Second one is North-South politics in climate governance. Southern countries often affected and vulnerable to climate change in which they contribute less. It brings the issue of climate injustice. As UNFCC develop the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities. But this is opposed by some powerful developed countries as there are newly industrializing powerhouse in south also. There is ongoing debate about whether developing countries should take on their own emissions reductions commitments.
l Lastly, the marketization of climate governance. In the context of globalization and neo-liberal economy, the market based solution often labelled as "flexibility mechanism" for combating the climate change often makes no difference. It is business as usual.
Questions regarding taking the responsibility and bearing the cost
In question of responsibility, there is a sense of injustice toward world's poor countries as they suffer most from climate change though they contribute less to the problem. As south always urge toward developed north to take the responsibility. As, UNFCCC initiate the common but differentiate responsibility. There also two other proposal given in this book. One is "Contraction and Convergence" where developed countries decrease their emission toward an agreed level and poorer countries are allowed to increase their emission. Another one is "Greenhouse Development Rights Framework" in which Countries' abatement targets would be calculated by the number of people above a development threshold ($20 a day). It also implies taxation paid into global fund. But there is fraction among developing states and also conflict between developed and developing states.
In term of bearing the cost, world's poor are mostly affected which termed as climate injustice. They bear the cost of industrialization and development of world's developed countries. As the world's poor countries often the victims of cyclone, tornado, flood and other disaster which are caused by the climate change. Such as the case of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, Uganda case of carbon sink and others. Civil society, NGOs need to play role to tackle the injustice.
World Bank is a major stakeholder in term of compensating those affected countries. It provides fund through various means such as Bio-Carbon Fund, Carbon Partnership facility, Umbrella Carbon Facility and Community Development Carbon Fund. It also gives credit for renewable energy business, project. But sometimes they took policies which do not quite take into account the climate issues. Such as, its commitment toward energy sector rather than renewable energy.
Complexities in climate change governance
There are three factors which make the climate change governance difficult.
l First one is the multiple scales of political decision-making involved in climate change governance. That means the climate change is global problem. Not just states are responsible for take care of this but also non-sate actors such as, multinational corporations and consumers are also responsible. As many scholars now suggests it needs to be considered as a multilevel problem, in which different levels of decision-making local, regional, national, and international are involved.
l Second factor is the fragmented and blurred roles of state and non-state actors. As non-state actors also responsible and being critically involved in climate change governance.
l And the last one is the economically and socially embedded nature of the production of GHG emissions. Use of energy is considered as heart of modern life and economic growth.
So, in order to tackle the threats of climate change, we need a strong body of climate governance which will ensure the survival and safety of all the creatures in the planet earth. Also this will distribute the responsibilities on the basis of equity and ensure justice to everybody in governing the climate change.
Muhammad Estiak Hussain is a Student, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka