Politics of Environment

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Category: Societal Issues

Date Submitted: 09/12/2016 03:51 AM

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Environmental problems do not respect State boundaries. This fact has been recognised for several decades now, particularly since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (the Stockholm Conference) in 1972, which is often credited as the birth of international environmental politics. However, Chasek, et al. (2010), argue that it was not until the 1980s that most governments began to see global environmental problems as anything more than “minor issues, marginal to both their core interests and to international politics in general” (p1). Nevertheless, an improved understanding of ecological processes has led to a situation where the “interaction between economic development and the complex, often fragile, ecosystems on which that development depends has become a major economic and political issue” (Chasek, et al., 2010, p14). Doyle & McEachern (2008) claim that international diplomacy has allowed an ‘ever increasing list of administrative regimes and conventions’ to emerge, which ‘influence if not actually govern our global environments’ (p244). One such convention is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a product itself of the Rio Earth Summit (1992), which was concerned with global greenhouse gas emissions. This was the “first international environmental agreement to be negotiated by virtually the whole of the international community” (Sands, 2003, p359). In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC was adopted, creating a legally binding international treaty to which members of the UNFCCC could ratify. Fundamentally, this essay aims to evaluate whether the Kyoto Protocol is, and has been, an equitable and effective global agreement, focussing particularly on how the key principles of international law have been applied in this case. It will also address, perhaps in less depth, the first claim of the above assertion; that understanding global environmental changes is easy.

The ‘ultimate objective’ of the UNFCCC, and...