Climate Change: How the World is Responding. Chapter 5. Overview. Most people agree that something can be done to counteract climate change through: Personal Action/Decisions National Policy Binding International Agreements Corporations changing their practices. Pre-Kyoto.
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Overview • Most people agree that something can be done to counteract climate change through: • Personal Action/Decisions • National Policy • Binding International Agreements • Corporations changing their practices
Pre-Kyoto • 1979: First World Climate Conference • 1980s: Growing social awareness of Global Warming • 1987: Montreal Protocol • 1990: First IPCC Report attributing warming to anthropogenic factors • 1992: UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro • Established Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC)
FCCC • Different countries have different requirements based on level of development • Encouraged more developed countries to help fund less developed countries • Went beyond Montreal Protocol • FCCC wanted to conserve sinks (concentrated natural areas that remove greenhouse gases through natural cycles. Ex Forests, Marine Ecosystems)
Kyoto • Purpose: to reduce emissions of GHGs in 2008-2012 to 5% below 1990 levels • 1997: Met for negotiations on emissions • Feb 16th 2005: Went into effect with the ratification of Russia
Kyoto Signatories • More than 170 countries, including: • EU • Russia • Japan • China
European Union • Represented 30% of 1990 emissions • Made Kyoto legally binding for all member nations • Under Tony Blair, the UK set more aggressive goals • Germany and the Netherlands are focusing on renewable wind energy • Compared to electricity generated by coal, wind and solar generated electricity produce 130-268 times less CO2/kWhr • Opposition: Some countries are objecting to new taxes. Ex. Finland
Japan • Agreed to cut 1990 GHG emission by 6% by 2008 • Voluntary action by industry is key • Explored use of CO2 tax • Emission Trading: 34 participants • Business help by tree planting • Advocate switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy (2nd only to Germany)
China • One of top 5 GHG emitters • Kyoto protocol has no mandatory GHG reductions for developing countries • Due to the size, population, and reliance on coal China’s growing energy sector poses many environmental concerns • 500 new coal plants by 2012 • China is looking for help from the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development & Climate
The United States • 36% of 1990 emission among industrialized countries • March 2001: Bush withdraws from promised Kyoto membership • Why: • 1990s: U.S. industry pressured the gov’t to resist Kyoto • Byrd-Hagel Resolution (1997) – U.S. Senate concluded Kyoto needed stronger requirements for developing countries • Clinton wanted to ratify but didn’t send to the senate for ratification b/c didn’t comply with Byrd-Hagel • “It exempts 80% of the world including major population centers such as China and India from compliance and would cause serious harm to the U.S. economy” – President Bush
Continued: • Opponents to Kyoto argued that CO2 poses no threat to public health and would only burden families and communities • Alternative U.S. Initiatives: • Domestic voluntary action and continued research on climate change • $3 billion spent every year on research • Current gov’t target for reducing emissions will place the U.S. 30% above 1990 levels • December 2005: during first meeting of Kyoto Protocol meetings, 24 senators wrote a bi-partisan letter to urge U.S. action at the meeting
Discussion Questions: • A major flaw in the Kyoto Protocol is the different standards for developed and developing countries. • Do you think that developing countries should be have to meet the same requirements that developed countries are expected to? • What do you think is preventing developing nations from being able to meet the higher standards?
State and Local Initiatives • Different states have different views • Anti-Kyoto: 16 states have passed resolutions asking the gov’t to reject Kyoto • Pro-Action: • the Attorney Generals of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts sued the EPA for failing to implement the clean air act • Supreme Court ruled in favor of the states • Colorado approved a carbon tax & has created programs to purchase wind & other alternative fuels • State based environmental policy changes are less contentious
California: Register, Clean, Renew • California’s economy, population, and volume of CO2 emissions indicate that its activities to reduce GHGs can influence global efforts • “No Regrets” Policy • California Climate Action Registry aims to make reductions economically rewarding • Green marketing – GHG trading markets • Waste minimization – Export of new technology • Aim to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
Other Actions • The private sector: • World Resources Institute concluded that “proactive work” to measure emissions & minimize costs of rule compliance could be much less costly than “reacting to events at a later date” • Companies are working to make themselves appear more environmentally conscious • Citizens demand “greener” practices through specific purchasing practices
Individuals: • More energy is required to produce packaging & newsprint from raw materials than from recycled goods • Public transportation, carpooling, bicycling, working at home, flexible work schedules • Divestment from companies with unsound environmental practices • Such as Bank of America, CitiBank, Exxon Mobile,etc • Green housing: EnergyStar appliances
Conclusion: Room for Change • Through international organizations, governments, and other interest groups people are learning more about climate change • “Some scientists have concluded that the present response is not enough but the world community has proved to be capable to reacting to environmental challenges quickly when the true problem is made clear”