United Nations Climate Change Measures: A Conference in Review, and Looking Towards the Future
By admin February 12, 2015

Lima COP20

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon recently declared 2015 the “year of sustainability”. With the COP20 conference in Lima barely in the rearview mirror, the Geneva Climate Change Conference impending (scheduled for 8-13 February 2015), and the COP21 conference in Paris (December 2015) on the horizon, climate change has become undeniably one of the most prominent topics for discussion on the international stage.

The implications of climate change are wide-ranging and hard-hitting, making it relevant for every country to participate in multilateral discourses regarding future measures affecting the environment.“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.” This indicates further warming beyond the 2 degrees Celsius that global temperatures have already climbed, as well as widening glacial melting and rising sea levels. According to the IPCC, “taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time”, suggesting that action must be taken quickly in order to minimize these costs.  The agriculture industries of low-lying countries, already susceptible to even slight changes in climate, would be left even more vulnerable to damaging conditions, weakening the economic standing of these countries.

Ed Davey, Great Britain’s energy and climate change secretary, recognized that even after COP20 in Lima, the measures that countries have agreed to take would not be enough to stop, let alone reverse the marked trend of global warming since the Industrial Revolution. Claiming that there would exist “a gap between what the world is offering and what the science says we need to do,” Davey voices the concerns of scientists worldwide who fear the worst after such a prolonged period of climate change. Due to the politicized, factionalized nature of the talks in Lima, there are reservations that future talks in Paris could also go awry and lead to additional feeble attempts at legally binding agreements. “Unless the rich countries take care in the negotiations, at some point it will become clear to developing countries that no deal may prove better than any deal.”

Countries have been asked to provide their proposals for decreasing emissions of greenhouse gases by 31 March 2015. However, with more developed countries maintaining vague clauses regarding financial support for less-developed countries wishing to cut down on emissions, these plans may be even less clear than those laid out in Lima. This situation is the classic example of a free-rider problem; countries are willing to pitch in to protect the global commons, which everyone benefits from, only if there aren’t other countries benefitting without also working towards the common goal.

The implications of this declared “year of sustainability” will not only impact politics, businesses are also stakeholders in that they will see an “unprecedented demand for hyper-transparent business supply chains.” “Collaborative initiates such as Sedex, AIM-progress, and the Bangladesh Accord have helped to boost the availability of supply chain data,” making it easier for companies to perform under responsible business practices. Firms who recognize the benefits of supply-chain transparency will further the proliferation of universal human rights and environmental protection.

This year, the crux of climate change hangs in the balance. The conferences in Geneva and Paris are crucial for both recognizing and counteracting the effects of climate change and developing a sustainable plan of action to cut the losses of the damage that has already be done. Whether these conferences see success or failure, the dialogue that occurs will serve as the basis for future talks, and will teach us how to move forward.



Thanks for sharing !

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