Environment al Politics http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v= W 7 a-Hs 9 Ux. Yo
n n n Environment – the totality of surrounding conditions Ecology – interaction between a species and its environment Ecosystem – a system of interactions: u u n n n between all living (organic) things and the physical environment – and between themselves Biosphere – the global ecosystem, including all ecosystems existing on Earth Immense network of symbiosis (living together) Self-regulating balances – emerging, being disturbed, and then restored again
n n n Planet Earth Total number of species (est. ) – 2 mln. known, up to 100 mln. unknown (est. ) u They inhabit a closed system – the Earth u They struggle for survival u They compete and cooperate u They modify the environment The human species stands out in 2 ways*: u It is the only species capable of endangering or even destroying the ecosystems it depends on for survival u It is the only species which has penetrated every other ecosystem and established its domination over them « *Clive Ponting, A Green History of the World. L. : Sinclair. Stevenson Ltd. , 1991
The livable natural environment is maintained by communities of living organisms whose interactions are maintained naturally Self-regulating world Then human interventions begin The biosphere copes with these interventions by resetting the balances Survival of the human species is not a required condition in the restoration of upset balances
The environmental conditions required to maintain human life are very unstable The essential element: WATER Its condition is vulnerable to temperature shifts between the two extremes: an Ice Age, and full evaporation of the oceans.
n n n n Ice ages have been typical of the planet’s history Most recent: 13, 000 years ago 500 years ago (the Little Ice Age) None of them have been triggered off by humans In the past, humans have created small-scale ecological disasters – limited to a specific geographical area (Mesopotamia, Greece) In the past half-century, we have begun to create a global ecological catastrophe Increase in temperature upsets the delicate ecological balances, triggering off unforeseen changes
n Global Footprint Network: http: //www. footprintnetwork. org/en/index. php/GFN/
n Sea levels rising faster than expected, March 2009: n n "With stiff reductions (of greenhouse gases) in 2050 you can end the temperature curve (rise) quite quickly, but there's not much you can do to the sea-level rise anymore. We are setting in motion processes that will lead to sea levels rising for centuries to come. " Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
Depletion of the ozone layer n The layer of air at the 7 -18 km altitude which protects the planet from excessive ultraviolet radiation n Emission of CFCs into the atmosphere n Ozone holes – over Antarctica, a 3 -fold depletion
Availability of land water n The planet has 150 mln. square kms of dry land n Humans are controlling 28% of it n This leads to deforestation (5, 000 years ago, forests covered 75% of dry land, today – only 26%), desertification, depletion of water and other natural resources, chemical poisoning of soil, water and air n Every year, we dump 12 -15 mln. tons of oil into the oceans n 150 mln. sq. km out of 361 mln. of the world ocean is polluted
n n The water crisis: http: //news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/science/nature /7821082. stm
n n Decline of biodiversity Every year between 17, 000 and 100, 000 species vanish from the planet. The speed in which species are becoming extinct is much faster than in the past. The last mass extinction was caused by a meteor collision 65 million years ago.
n n Running out of food The surge in food prices in recent years, following a century of decline, has been the most marked of the past century in its magnitude, duration and the number of commodity groups whose prices have increased. The ensuing crisis has resulted in a 50– 200% increase in selected commodity prices, driven 110 million people into poverty and added 44 million more to the undernourished. Elevated food prices have had dramatic impacts on the lives and livelihoods, including increased infant and child mortality, of those already undernourished or living in poverty and spending 70– 80% of their daily income on food.
n n Key causes of the current food crisis are the combined effects of: u speculation in food stocks, u extreme weather events, u low cereal stocks, u growth in biofuels competing for cropland u high oil prices. Although prices have fallen sharply since the peak in July 2008, they are still high above those in 2004 for many key commodities. The underlying supply and demand tensions are little changed from those that existed just a few months ago when these prices were close to all-time highs. (The Environmental Food Crisis, UNEP, 2009)
n n n The ecological crisis creates threats to international security Since the end of the Cold War, at least 18 violent conflicts have been driven by the exploitation of natural resources. While political and military issues remain critical, concepts of security and conflict have broadened, with environmental degradation now seen as a significant contributing factor to conflict.
n n Climate Change and Human Security (a European Union report, 2008): http: //www. consilium. europa. eu/uedocs/c ms_data/docs/pressdata/en/reports/9938 7. pdf
n n n Natural resources and the environment can be involved in all phases of the conflict cycle: from contributing to the outbreak and perpetuation of conflict and to spoiling the prospects for peace. The way that natural resources and the environment are governed has a determining influence on peace and security. Investing in environmental management and the governance of natural resources is an investment in conflict prevention. Cooperation over the management of natural resources and the environment provides new opportunities for peacebuilding that should be pursued. From Conflict to Peace-Building: The Role of Natural Resources. UNEP, 2009 http: //www. unep. org/publications/search/pub_details_s. asp? ID=3998
n n 2 developments generated the emergence of ecological consciousness in the 1960 s: u Pollution – damage to air, water and soil from economic activities u The Bomb – danger of nuclear war Since the 1960 s, the environmental movement steadily grew and began to influence political processes In the 1990 s, concerted international actions to deal with the ecological crisis began “Planetarism” (J. Attali): new thinking, driven by the e-crisis
n n Main political positions on issues of environmental politics Mainstream: recognition of the crisis and attempts to develop governmental and international policies to deal with the crisis within the existing global political-economic system Right-wing: the problems have natural, not human origins, the human factor is insignificant, increased government regulation will damage the economy, greater market freedom will help deal with ecological problems Left-wing: The existing global capitalist system is the main cause of the crisis – and the main obstacle to effective solutions. Unless the fundamental logic of capitalism is challenged, the environmental crisis will only get worse
n n Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http: //www. ipcc. ch/#
n n UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 u acknowledged that climate change was real and caused by human activities such as land use changes (deforestation) and burning of fossil fuels u adopted the Precautionary Principle - that a lack of scientific certainty should not be used as an excuse for inaction u committed Parties to the United Nations Convention to 2 types of action to address climate change: Mitigation « Adaptation «
« Mitigation - reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent dangerous climate change « Adaptation - taking action to adapt to the climate change to which the world is already irreversibly committed. This includes investment in better planning, strengthened infrastructure, and projects and programs to adapt agricultural production and improve food security.
n n n n The Kyoto Protocol (“Kyoto”) - an amendment to UNFCCC Negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 Open for signing from March 1998 to March 1999 Went into effect in 2005, when ratified by countries responsible for at least 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions To achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. “ – http: //unfccc. int/essential_background/convention/backgrou nd/items/1353. php
n n n --Legally binding commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gases --Countries are required to prepare policies and measures for the reduction of greenhouse gases in their respective countries. --In addition, they are required to increase the absorption of these gases and utilize all mechanisms available, such as: u u u n n n joint implementation, the clean development mechanism emissions trading, in order to be rewarded with credits that would allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home. --Minimizing Impacts on Developing Countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change. --Accounting, Reporting and Review in order to ensure the integrity of the Protocol. --Compliance. Establishing a Compliance Committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.
n n n Under Kyoto, industrialized countries agreed to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5. 2% compared to the year 1990 (compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this limitation represents a 29% cut). The 6 greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons National limitations range from 8% reductions for the European Union and some others to 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, 0% for Russia, and permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland
n n Kyoto is a 'cap and trade' system that imposes national caps on the emissions of Annex I countries. On average, this cap requires countries to reduce their emissions 5. 2% below their 1990 baseline over the 2008 to 2012 period. Although these caps are national-level commitments, in practice most countries will devolve their emissions targets to individual industrial entities, such as a power plant or paper factory. Allowances and carbon credits have generated a market This market has grown substantially, with banks, brokers, funds, arbitrageurs and private traders now participating in a market valued at about $60 billion in 2007.
In order to achieve this… we need to do this
n n n Implementation The First Commitment Period: 2008 -2012 Non-compliance: u u n USA signed, but refused to ratify, considers itself free of Kyoto obligations Canada did ratify, but did not fulfill its obligations – and in Dec. 2011, denounced Kyoto Problems u u u Need to cooperate internationally for the global common good - vs. competition between nations Institutions protecting private interests from public interference The power of greed (capital accumulation) Obsolete thinking reinforced by propaganda of special interests How to force countries to implement
n n Kick the Habit: A UN Guide to Climate Neutrality (an e-book for everyone) http: //www. unep. org/publications/ebooks/ kick-the-habit/Default. aspx
n n The politics of climate change, infographic: http: //www. aljazeera. com/indepth/interac tive/2012/11/20121118131411899744. ht ml