Global Politics

As vast as the number of global environmental politics, regulations, laws, policies, and politicians involved that have both helped and harmed our current environmental state, the following will be strictly addressing the unified global concern for the Earth represented by political leaders (albeit briefly). If you are curious about your local government's regulations and what part they're playing in concern to environmentalism, I suggest researching them independently. 

 
 
U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt and environmentalist John Muir, 1906 

U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt and environmentalist John Muir, 1906 

The history of regulations and concern

Since the 20th century, major regulations and policies have existed for the benefit of our energy use and preservation of wildlife. Prior to environmental awareness and concern, however, it was mostly for domestic issues and international developments; especially as developed countries were becoming more and more urbanized. As clashing between private and public lands occurred with competition of resources, strict regulations began to accommodate to these situations. However, this was mostly for industry-by-industry basis and not so much universally applied. International environmental regulations and agreements did not begin with the effects of climate change, it began with the harmful effects of resources and development, like the Convention on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation in the Western Hemisphere of 1940, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling of 1946, or the International Convention for the Preservation of Pollution of the Sea by Oil of 1954 in London, and so on. Dozens upon dozens of international regulations and agreements began in the mid-20th century as concerns became more varied and frequent. Several of these in time were given amendments and updates, and several became obsolete. In fact, over several thousand international environmental agreements have been enacted by multiple countries over the years.

Contemporary global reactions to environmental degradation have to do with specific reactions like desertification, depletion of the Ozone layer, or the Law of the Sea; however much of it is either effected or caused by climate change, outside of pollution, human negligence, or piracy. Some of the political attention involved with climate change are the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

 


Climate change

Though much of environmentalism has to do with individuals and with businesses, political regulations and policies [hopefully] help to encourage and enable those individuals and businesses to make more effective decisions and procedures. However, this can only really work if fairness is taken into account. For example, the Kyoto Protocol dealt with cutting gas emissions from developed industrial countries and excluded developing countries, unless they wished to volunteer. China and India are still considered developing countries and were exempt, even though China releases more gas emissions than the U.S. and Europe combined and India is the fourth largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions. The Kyoto Protocol was also set at 1997 greenhouse gas estimates which is far outdated for today's rates as development and industrialization has advanced so much since then. The United States stepped out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreement (PCA) is intended for all countries, developed and developing, based on the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions those individual countries release. The PCA also works with political leaders to assist them on getting on track to meeting their universal goal of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial temperatures (of when greenhouses gases first went above averages based on anthropogenic causes) and a limiting increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, since the vulnerability of developing countries many times have difficult financial capabilities to do so. The United States stepped out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017.

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference goes a step further on understanding the causes and effects of climate change and how to better implement both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement to individual countries so as to make it more effective on meeting their goals, as well as discussing other ways climate change can be combated. 

South Africa signing the PCA

South Africa signing the PCA


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It's never perfect

Global environmental politics are always changing, updating, and forming just like the condition of the environment is. They're not perfect and many times we have to fight our own government just so that we can fight our environmental battles, which should never be the case. But the important thing to remember is that we all share the Earth and one problem tends to be connected to another. Thus, it is all our responsibilities to make a difference and work together, as well as our countries' leaders, to remedy the ongoing problems we are facing with resource exploitation, overpopulation, global warming, pollution, and environmental degradation- including the loss of countless vulnerable beings. It is therefore vital we understand that people control their governments, not the other way around, and that we have the obligations to express our democracy and make the necessary changes needed. 

“If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” -Barack Obama