How effective is international cooperation in addressing transnational environmental issues?
This essay will investigate how International cooperation work together, how effective the international community’s contingency plans have been at achieving environmental change in transnational issues. Transnational issues refer to threats to environmental issues that affect more than just one nation and their interests, instead its issue involving states that are can be affected in varying manners. To effectively investigate whether or not international cooperation is being effectively achieved in transnational issues, there will be the use of case studies that have investigated the: Antarctic ice retreating and the effects that sea level rises have had on the Bangladesh citizen’s due to sea level rising. To effectively understand this issue, such international theories as, Neorealism, and Raison d’etat others will be utilised.
The United Nation’s, is an example of how States work together on transnational issue. The organisation shares strong neoliberalist views. The United Nation’s branch Environmental Programme (United Nations Environmental Programme) structure is an example of Neoliberalism as nation States are shifting some power and control towards the United Nations Environmental Programme (Evans, 2012). The UNEP is an organisation that is able to bring together 193 nations, to cooperate on transnational environmental issues (UNEP, 2009). Of these 193 nations there are seven significant members China, USA, Russia, France, German, United Kingdom and India (UNEP, 2009). These members under the UNEP are striving toward the utopian model. The utopian model refers to striving to create a place of ideal, social, moral and political conditions (Evans, 2012), this evident in the way United nations with UNEP strive to create better political conditions for transnational environmental issues. This striving towards to invoke meaningful change in transnational environmental issues, and is seen in the Magdeburg Environmental Forum. The Magdeburg Environmental Forum united 250 high ranking associates who representing key: sciences, politicians, industrial sectors and NGO’s under the Sustainable Mobility – The Post-2012 CO2 Agenda (United Nations Environment Programme, 2012). This agenda also achieved significant success in reaching agreement with Germany manufacture company Daimler AG, who have agreed to extend Memorandum of Understanding with UNEP (Brock, 2012). Daimler stated that with UNEP help they will continue to optimise their engines for environmental efficiency, increase the efficiency of the fuel cells of hybrid cars, and will continue to explore future renewable energy resources for cars (Brock, 2012). The UNEP have been successful at bringing the focus of discussion to renewable energy resources in developing nations. A success from the 2002 sustainable development report was that it underlined that more was needed to be done to close the gap between developed nations and developing nations in the relation of sustainable development (York, 2012). UNEP saw India as an example of how investment in their stagnating renewable market could aid in closing the gap (UNEP, 2015). In 2003 UNEP established the UNEP Solar Loan Project. This project set up with a partnership between united nation branches, and two of India’s most powerful banking groups – Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank, and their sponsored Grameen banks (UNEP, 2015). This project managed to grant 19533 loans and kick start the renewable energy investment in India. In 2011 India was the largest grower in the large renewable energy market, with a 62 per cent increase to US$ 12 billion (UNEP, 2015).
Although there has been the United Nations has achieved relative success with cooperation between States in environmental issue. The intentional community displayed an inability to address the issue of setting a set limit for greenhouse emission for human activities. The greenhouse effect refers to the warming effect the gases (greenhouse) such as CO2 and NOX trap the heat of the sun in the atmosphere (Goverment, 2015). This is seen in the way that it took United Nation members two years to agree on the Kyoto Protocol after already agreeing that that limits for United Nations Framework Convention were inadequate (United Nations, 2014). This lack of transnational cooperation is seen in the continuing deteriorating and retreating of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Professor Alexander (et al) during the 1990’s stated that the increase in surface temperature in Antarctic will cause and increase in sea levels, and stated that Ice shelf like Larsen are deteriorating due to the higher the increased global surface air temperature (Church, 2010). The professor outlined how their need to be reduction in greenhouse emissions (Nitrous oxide and Carbon dioxide), especially those emitted from power stations. However these recommendations were never heeded and this was partly due to nation not cooperating efficiently under the UN in the Kyoto protocol. The protocol is an international agreement between United Nations members and non-members Nations to set mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions (Evans, 2012). The members of the protocol failed to reduce the global CO2 emissions (a key objective of the protocol) during its period of authority (1995-2010) (Clark, 2012). The global emissions for CO2 were not reducing but instead were trending up. During the period that Protocol’s was in action, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (established by the United Nations) had been publishing their finding and observations. Their assessments in 1990’s advised nations that there was a clear link in increase greenhouse gasses (such as CO2) emitted by human movement as one of the key causes for global warming. In 2007 report they stated with 90% certainty that global warming over last 50 years is due to human activities (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, 1990). The report in 2007 informed the international community that this increase in mean global mean surface air temperature would result in land ice melting, causing seas to rise by at least 20 cm by 2030, and 65 cm by the end of the next century (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). However despite this warnings and recommendations by the IPCC the international community failed to cooperate under the Kyoto protocol successfully. The failure of Kyoto protocol can be attributed to the fact that nations such as USA, India, China and Australia (Australia finally ratified the protocol in 2007) failed to cooperate on agreements for limits for their Greenhouse emissions (Clark, 2012). The reason these nations may have chosen not to cooperate with international community because of the Raison d’etat theory. Meaning that the countries would not cooperate and agree to the limits as the way these nations saw it the limits would not benefit or strengthen their position in anyway, and thus they wouldn’t cooperate (Evans, 2012). This is seen when the United States President Bush the USA would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol as it would harm their economy, President Bush also stated that the Protocol was not fair as other big polluters like China and India were not require to cut emissions and the president believed that this would put the USA in economic disadvantage (Reynolds, 2001). This lack of cooperation can be attributed to individual National pushing their interest ahead of transitional issue is a major problem for international cooperation, as there is no real effective way to force a economically strong nation such as China or USA to agree to these protocols (Biden, 2015). The failure to cooperate has had dramatic effect on the stability and security of the West Antarctica Ice shelf (WAIS). The WAIS is marine ice sheet that comprise of two sections: ice that is grounded to land below the sea level, and ice shelves which are floating extensions of ice fixed horizontally to the Ice sheet. The WAIS contains 3 million kilometres cubed of Ice; if this volume of water was to be introduced into the sea it would cause a rise of sea levels by 4 meters (Spencer Weart & American Institute of Physics, 2015). The effects that the global warming has had on the WAIS were witness in 1960’s when the Wordie Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula was recorded to retreat, by the 80’s the Peninsula had been completely disintegrated (Vaughan, 2010). Again the international community and world would witness a consequence of cooperation on global warming failing, when the North Larsen B Ice shelf collapsed in 2002. The collapsing of North Larsen B self only took 6 weeks to take place (NASA, 2010).
Collapse of ice sheet and the melting of glaciers, as a result of anthropogenic activities have resulted in the increase acceleration of sea level rises (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). According to National Geographic the current yearly average sea level is 3.2 mm, which was twice the rate that sea was rising in the past 80 year, with Antarctic region contributing about 0.2 mm to sea level rises yearly (National geographic, 2015). These sea level rises are having dramatic effect on low lying nations such Bangladesh. The Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh is the region that is and will be the most effected by the current sea level rises (Smith, 2015). The Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta is located in Bangladesh and west Bengal India, it is largest delta in Asia and is the home to about 111 million people (union of concerned scientists, 2011), of whom a majority vulnerable and economically reliant on delta land to make a living. Sandwip Islands which are located in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta are already experiencing the adverse effects of sea level rising from global warming; this is evident from the way the way islands such as Sanwip islands Kutubdia land has been eroding away (Vidal, 2013). The rising sea levels will pollute the water table with salt water causing a saline solution which pollute the ground and prevent anything from being able to be farmed (Vidal, 2013). As well polluting farming land the rising sea levels can cause large sections of islands to erode away. This way evident over 20 year period (1993-2013) in the Kutubdia Island where the islands was eroded from 200 sq km to 100 sq km (Vidal, 2013). With this continual erosion has it will cause up to 300 million farmers and fishermen on islands such as the Kutbdai to relocate to the inner city slums in order to survive. In an interview with Vice in 2015 DR. Atiq Rahman (a recipient of the Nobel peace prize in 2007 for environmental work) stressed that this erosion of land will cause millions of people to become disenfranchised and dislocated, causing a global threat that the current global government system are not equipped to manage (Rahman, 2015).
Transitional organisation such as United Nation can be effective at achieving changed in aspects of the Environment. However it is clear from the lack of clear and effective cooperation under the United Nations in response to threat of Global warming and the melting of the Antarctic Ice that international cooperation will fail unless transnational environmental issues can be put ahead of National interests. Vice President Joe bidden perfectly summed up why there is a lack of action in nations such as United States of America, and other international States in these environmental issues, he stated that is to many special interests involved in the situation, such as coal and oil, and Nations won’t to give these interest up as they have to protect their national interests (Biden, 2015).