International Environmental Governance

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Photo credit: Yomiuri Shimbun/AP Images

By Arien Hernandez.

Climate injustice, alongside a lack of state responsibility and commitment, is arguably one of the world’s most formidable challenges regarding climate change. Measured by the extent of damage that would occur if no climate action was taken, developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change, and yet have fewer resources to combat it (Chap. 3, Morin et al.).

Regardless of their emissions, developing countries deal with a disproportionate impact of pollution and environmental degradation due to their reliance on natural resources. Climate change is one of the greatest risks to lower wealth communities, as it is a “force capable of literally ‘undoing’ decades of development”. Meanwhile, some developed states, such as the U.S., have favored minimal agreements in environmental treaties or policies, which are sometimes incomplete or ambiguous (Chapter 7, Morin et al.). Although states have shown initiation in climate action through international treaties such as the Paris Agreement, the ambition gap is a clear indicator that states need stricter emissions targets. If every country shared a systematic and structural view on the environment, these issues would be easier to solve (Chap 6, Morin et al.).

Developed countries can help remedy this issue by taking responsibility for their historic and current emissions while supporting developing nations by transferring funds, expertise, and technologies. Thus, alleviating some of the climate inequity. To fully commit to stricter emissions targets, developed states could enforce emissions trading, ratify more environmental treaties with binding emission targets, or divest from fossil fuels and encourage sustainable energy.

The increasing involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and their significant contributions in addressing collective action problems in global environmental politics, has restored a majority of my hope for the future. A perfect example is noting California’s initiation in air pollution legislation and greenhouse gas emission policies, whereas the U.S. federal government fails to uphold similar goals. It is promising to know that amid inaction and irresponsibility across state actors, many groups and organizations are committed to combating climate change. However, more environmental cooperation and action is needed if we are to restore the Earth’s climate to sustainable and healthier levels.

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