Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Byron Christensen
Last updated: August 18, 2019
The International Obstacles Facing Environmental Preservation & Sustainable Development The global community is facing contemporary issues in which they have no extensive history of management, participation, compliance and enforcement; making it perhaps one of the most vital yet least prioritized issues: the environment and sustainable development. Environmental preservation and sustainable development are inadequately implemented, incorrectly approached, and poorly structuredl .
Internationally its importance has not been at the forefront until the last 30 years and even then the spotlight is fleeting and not as bright as it should be.Its relevance and importance in the international arena is obvious: the future of the planet and its ability to sustain the unprecedented population growth and its associated impacts of pollution, air and water quality, rising sea levels, extreme weather, natural resources & food availability and the social and political ramifications such as displacement2. There are several uphill battles that the advocates of the environment and sustainable development face in the international arena.
First is the issue participation: how to ensure that all parties participate in the process of developing a ustainable planet and protecting the environment.Second is compliance: ensuring that those who do participate comply with their mandates and goals. Furthermore there are issue with the current international governance system and how it deals with environmental initiatives, including the international organizations which need to step up and invest more resources3, initiatives and attention towards this important issue. Both how those organizations currently in existence are inadequately operating and the need create Roberto P. Guimaraes, “Waiting to Godot: sustainable development, international rade and governance in environmental policies” Contemporary Politics, Volume 10, Numbers 3-4.
. 201 2 Guimaraes p. 202. 3 Guimaraes p. 205. 2 a more specialized system of governance4. Throughout the international arena there are examples of the short comings of the current efforts and initiatives in ensuring differences in how each success and each failure was managed- The Montreal Protocol versus the Kyoto Protoc015.
To successfully see the implementation of appropriate environmental protection via legislation or reformative action and sustainable development there are numerous scholars who have suggested methods o deal with the challenges facing this contemporary issue.Unfortunately those too are not free of their own short comings and loopholes as will be later analyzed: Management, resources, technology6, all play a factor in how effective the potential reforms in the current approach participation and compliance in regards to environmental and sustainable development initiatives. Successful environmental intervention and the road to sustainable development require effective participation, compliance and governance in international organization but the will and desire to ake the suggestions remotely possible, all of which the current system is grossly lacking.A key question asked by sceptics of environmental preservation and sustainable development is what the main issues are; the question should be: What aren’t the issues. Currently speaking there are numerous facets which are parts of the overall environmental degradation in the planet. The most obvious and dually noted and discussed are the greenhouse gasses (GH6s) and the depletion of the ozone; both large components of climate change. Those coupled in with depletion of resources: oil, coal, timber; the pollution of air, and 4 Guimaraes p. 07.
Guimaraes p. 208. 6 Guimaraes p. 209. water; extreme weather conditions and melting of the ice caps causing rises in sea levels7 have lead to the question of how to deal with this issue effectively, efficiently and now.
The reality is that historically there is no real context to draw inferences and guidelines from. This is in fact an issue which has only been floating around for the last 30 years and has gained steam in the last decade, but is still not at the forefront of International community still taking a back seat to the traditional issues of peace and conflict as well as economic trade and development8.The only way environmental preservation and sustainable development can have impact is if there is a high rate of participation and effective compliance. Although often used interchangeably the two are different sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other. Described my numerous scholars as being a key obstacle- Salma Yusuf, Roberto Guimaraes and Peter Blunt- non participation creates an abundance of issues9.Firstly, it Jeopardizes the effectiveness of a treaty or agreement if major have full participation there are often many concessions which need to be made, hich in essence weaken the treaty or water down the objectives, otherwise known as “Lowest Common Denominator Solutions”11. Finally it can lead to “leakage” issues12, which essentially means when there are fewer participants, the non participants there in act as areas where the participants move their business practices too 7 Guimaraes p.
210. 9 Salma Yusuf, “Pursuing the right for today , securing the environment for tomorrow’ UNISCI Discussion Papers. . 181 . 10 Yusuf p. 182 11 Yusuf p. 183 12 8 where the treaty does not apply- therefore nullifying the potential benefits of the reaty13. Full participation seems to be the only plausible way to eliminate that.
Compliance on the other hand is the fallacy of participation. Of those who participate there are two categories: the regimes which comply and the regimes which do not comply14. Essentially those states who do not comply fail to meet their obligations of the treaty and more often than not it is due to lack of resources and expertise to facilitate the actions necessary to fulfill the treaties goalsl 5.The double edged sword of compliance is that those who do comply more often than not are complying within heir own nation state but the “leakage” issue still exists, it simply moves the state’s emissions16- in the case of the Kyoto Protocol- to other states.
Therefore raising the question: Does compliance of this variety defeat the purpose creating any environmental initiatives? Frank Biermann and Ingrid Boas adamantly state that in terms of the environment the dye has been cast17. Realistically there needs to be international focus on two things: policy planning and academic research18.Essentially, over the course of the next few years there need to be systems of global governance which can deal with he impacts of climate change and its associated social, political as well as environmental ramifications19. That is not to say that these systems need be built from the group up but rather the current systems in place need to be Yusuf p. 184 Yusuf p. 185 15 Yusfu p. 185 16 17 Frank Biermann and Ingrid Boas, ” Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governacne System to Protect Climate Refugees” Global Environmental Politics.P.
60. 18 Sevasti- Eleni Vezirgiannidou, “The Climate Change Regime Post Kyoto: Why Compliance is Important and How to Achieve it” Global Environmental Politics. P. 41 . 19 Vezirgiannidou p.
41 14 redesigned or prioritize their goals to include sustainable development and the environment20. Sevasti-Eleni Vezirgiannidou states that the current design of governance is flawed, a key reason why there hasn’t been extensive gains corralling climate change and advancing sustainable development at an appropriate pace21.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)22 has clearly stated that there are several issues that the global community needs to deal with in their Fourth Assessment Report issued in 200723, and suggested various components to help deal with limiting GHGs24. The issue then becomes that the IPCC is only able to give observations and suggestions and holds no power to exercise their recommendations and ensure that states proactively pursue policies and practices which would be beneficial to the planet as a whole.On the other hand scholars such as Guimaraes credit the issues of governance in regards to environmental policies an inherent issue of the advancement of market forces and the neo-conservative- anti regulatory ideology25. Environmental mandates and rules are against the very principles of anti-regulation and free market enterprise; however it seems that success it would eem that the environment is “common good” and is vital to ensure that the market and its various producers are able to continue to manufacture their goods-or otherwise run out of their resources. 26; Unfortunately it is not treated as such.An interesting perspective Guimaraes brings in is that of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in paragraph 4 of Article 3327, which is a mandatory provision making sure that each member 20 Vezirgiannidou p.
42 Vezirgiannidou p. 44. 23 24 Vezirgiannidou p. 45.
25 Guimaraes p. 211. 26 27 Guimaraes p. 212. 21 ensures the conformity of the associated laws, administrative procedures, and obligations28. In essence, if a free market enterprise requires rules and regulations in order to have success, the environments well being and protection should be a part of the foundational rules to being with and not an optional afterthought29.Although these rules ensure the compliance and results, the suggestion that there be an international environmental body that creates hard-line rules which nations would be forced to follow is almost impossible to fathom and seems to be an unrealistic expectation; after all, environmental preservation and sustainable development are a very low priority compared to economic interests and global trade, t least in the current neo-liberal system.
Although environmental preservation and sustainable development are fundamentally 21st century issues and quite possibly the most important issue in terms of long term importance and effect- the pressing need to address the issue has been present before that, with some success stories, and some failures. In the first International Environmental Treaty of its kind was established in 1987 with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer30.Its purpose was to categorize several groups of halogenated hydrocarbons which played a role in ozone epletion31 , particularly Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs32) and the initiative to phase them out completely by 201033. Since the signing the levels of most concentrated CFCs have drastically decreased and the use and production of CFCs is practically 28 Guimaraes p. 213.
Richard A. Matthew and Anne Hammill, “Sustainable Development and Climate Change” International Affairs. P. 1117. Matthew & Hammill p. 1118 32 Matthew & Hammill p. 1119 33 Matthew & Hammill p. 120 29 none existent34, which categorizes is it as a great environmental success and a great example of international cooperation and initiative in terms of facilitating and mplementing the Montreal Protocol and its subsequent amendments and ratifications35.
Initially, twenty nations signed onto the Montreal Protoc0136, however as of 2012 all states in the United Nations have ratified the original protoc0137. Its presence is a key moment in the start of addressing the importance of environmental issues, and getting all UN members on board38.Its success is a complete contrast to the other key international environmental initiative- the Kyoto Protocol- which was has thus far been very unsuccessful. The reasons for its short comings are tied in ith the contemporary issues which the environmental and sustainable development agenda are facing: participation, compliance and governance. There are several differences between the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols, both in the scope of their objectives and the challenges they were facing39.Some may consider comparisons between the two premature as Kyoto faces an issue of a larger magnitude and numerous parties40. However, the success the Montreal Protocol is based on more than Just the objective of the protocol compared to Kyoto, but rather the willingness of actors to participate, and who participated at which scale41. The ey issue Kyoto faced was the lack of proactive participation from Annex II nations, which Vezirgiannidou states as being a make it or break it Matthew & Hammill p.
7 38 39 Vezirgiannidou p. 46. Vezirgiannidou p. 47. 41 1120 1120. 1121.
1122. 35 condition42. Nations lead by example and if the world’s most powerful- political and economicstates do not ratify (like the United States43) or retract their commitment (Canada44). The possibility of the Protocol’s success became nonexistent for two reasons: the first is because the process is missing key actors who are key contributors to GH6s globally and as well as per capita consumption45.
The second is it creates a standard of where those who greatly contribute GH6s and hold the ability to fund and produce alternative technology or at least research are not a part of the process46, the process is bound to be slow, or completely successful as it’s an uphill battle being fought47. Signed in 1997, the economic, social and political arena has vastly changed since then. Once considered non annex nations, China and India have now developed into Economies in transition and would be considered part of Annex I group48.
A cause for turmoil for Annex II states in terms of assigning ownership of GH6s contributions causing further discourse in the participation of states in the Protoc0149. No state met the criteria of reducing their GH6s by 5% compared to 1990 levels50. This may seem like a legitimate complaint of Annex II nations – wanting China and India to be part of Kyoto in order to part take themselves51, but Marcel Wissenburg brings up a valid point when saying that the most powerful and developed states- meaning OCED nations- must step up to the plate and 42 Vezirgiannidou p.
8 45 Vezirgiannidou p. 49 47 Vezirgiannidou p. 50 49 Vezirgiannidou p. 51 50 51 create a culture of Kyoto level change52. His analysis seems aptly correct, as seen with the Montreal Protocol- its success was only possible based on the high levels of participation, and the high levels of compliance were only possible via the ability of those who participated to invest and create alternate technologies53- Kyoto was clearly lacking that.Furthermore Kyotds limited participation- Canada denouncing it’s presence, the United States not ratifying the protocol- coupled in with the large EIT which do not have any binding targets – Russia (in the second period), China, India and Brazil to name a few- makes the participation of the other states participating rrelevant, and if anything the lack of a hegemonic presence fails to make the rest of the world follow suit. There are numerous suggestions to make the future success of environmental and sustainable development treaties more viable.
The first includes centralizing Policies and Measures (PAMs54) as suggested by Richard Matthew and Anne Hammill. PAMS would be distinct in prescribing specific actions that can be monitored and controlled by an administrative body- the key is to ensure that there is flexibility and differentiation within commitments but while balancing the environmental effectiveness55. While that’s a noble request, and did work in the context of the Montreal Protocol by granting a transition period for developing nations56.Unfortunately, it is much more complex to create this system for issue that the Kyoto Protocol is facing, where Annex II nations were irrational and unwilling to be 52 Marcel Wissenburg, “Dehierarchization and Sustainable Development in Liberal and Non-Liberal Societies” Global Environmental Poltics. P. 95 53 Wissenburg p.
96. 54 Matthew & Hammill p. 1125 55 Matthew & Hammill p. 1126 56 flexible, and took a hard line approach: Either China or India does it or we will not57. PAMS can be specific for each specific section or industry, energy, forestry, transportation, waste management, and agriculture58.In fact the IPCC’s Reports follow this model as we1159, however they do not hold any authoritarian Jurisdiction in creating politics and procedures and merely study, comment and make suggestions on what needs to be done60. Kenneth Abbott furthers this suggestion by presence of PAMS effective61 , essentially dually using enforcement and management principles to improve participation, compliance and effectiveness. For instance, fines levied directly toward a nation or something perhaps more drastic would be trade estrictions62.
Critically speaking this may sound well on paper, but it may act as deterrence and hinder participation in essence becoming counterproductive63. Perhaps the answer is to move forward from simple “protocols” and agreements, but rather move towards a more legal, and binding solution- however that too is not without its complications as it would be seen as an infringement upon a nation’s sovereignty which makes the emergence of such binding laws next to impossible. The key solution is that superpowers partake in the environmental initiative and sustainable development.The hegemonic influence is undeniable and is a key driving factor in ensuring that non annex states and EIT fall in line- as seen with the Montreal Protocol.
Kyoto, and other future initiatives like it will fail and nullify their initial objectives until there is 57 Matthew & Hammill p. 1127 59 Matthew & Hammill p. 1128 Matthew & Hammill p.
1129 61 Kenneth Abbott, “Engaging the Public and the Private in Global Sustainability Governance “Environmental Politics. P. 544 62 Abbott p.
545 Abbott p. 545. 58 proactive participation and it must be a top down process64, there is no other way bout it.Active participation is a key factor in getting higher compliance rates, and the more Annex II states that participate, the more progress we’ll see65. Not Just because of their tort in the international arena but also because these states are key contributors to GH6s and need to start acknowledging their part in the current state of the environment and climate change instead of assigning onus to China and India and expecting those EIT to lead the way when this is clearly a cumulative issue and the Annex II states hold a big part in the current circumstances of the planet66.It eems that the solution towards ensuring effective measures of environmental preservation and sustainable development occur there needs to be inter-state pursue sustainable development without the assistance of developed nations in terms of resources, time and technology67. Subsequently developed nations also need to understand that the onus is not Just on developing countries to “develop green” but rather more so on themselves to lead by example, and pursue greener development.
This leads to the final key player in contributing to a new sustainable future: Corporations68. In a neo-liberal system there may be a slight advantage to he current environmental predicament the planet is facing. There is obviously a finite number of fossil fuels on the planet, limited amount of forests and other resources- therefore there is an internal competition between companies to find the most viable alternative technology and resource, and try to gain a distinct monopoly within the Abbott p. 546 Abbott p. 548 67 Abbott p.
49 65 market69. Although the sentiments behind the research are more so for economic gain than environmental well being and sustainable development, it is still nonetheless progress the international community desperately needs. The international community needs to dedicate their attention towards the environment, climate change and sustainable development, that fact is completely indisputable. Regardless if the causes are anthropogenic or not- as is hotly debated by somethe conditions the planet is facing are indisputable.Nations are facing constant challenges which need to be addressed collectively via global governance, not simple guidelines. States need to stop playing dodge ball and the proverbial “do as I say, not as I do” game and start dialogue as to what would be an effective approach in terms of environmental progress.
It seems obvious that participation is a problem as of late, and compliance issues also plague the current attempts of reducing GH6s, however all hope is not lost.Although a different scenario the Montreal Protocol is an example of the world’s leaders sitting down and proactively producing results. The difference seems to be in leadership.
Annex II states need to place initiative which seems to be lacking at the moment. Critically speaking whether that is due to economic interests tied in with industries, or truly feeling that newly minted EITs China and India need to be held to the same standard is ambiguous;