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Approaches to Climate Change and Energy Crisis sample essay

The acclaim and mass appeal that was garnered by the An Inconvenient Truth, no to mention Al Gore’s Noble Prize win, is a testament to the interest on the issue of climate change (Lawrence Bender Productions & Guggenheim, 2006). One of the main areas of concern is the development of industries that do not damage or endanger the environment is an urgent concern as industries now face dwindling resources, greater demand and more regulation both locally and internationally (Schnietz & Epstein, 2005). Whereas before when interest in environmental concerns were seen more as deterrents to a company’s operations.

The increase of judicial decisions levying companies to pay for environmental damages due to their products or manufacturing processes has changed the view to one that treats environment concerns and conserving energy resources as part of ensuring profitability. An assessment done by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) (2002) indicates that the deterioration of the environment has global implications. They point that the depletion of the ozone layer has been linked to stress marine and terrestrial resources though the depletion is mainly concentrated on the poles.

Furthermore, scientists estimate that at the current rate of consumption and pollution, the earth’s ecosystems will simply collapse from human demands. De Man (2005) also points out that there are higher social expectations concerning environmental awareness and responsibility among business organizations. National and international efforts have sought to develop universal relevance of the issue not only to promote it as a concern but also to established responsibility for the issue.

Robbins (2003) considers these an indication of the urgency and importance of the issue which in turn is to establish it as global critical priority. At the same time, climbing of energy prices due to demand has highlighted the need to raise efficiency and promote conservation. However, there are varying opinions on the approaches to be taken. One of the issues that have been subject to extensive debate is in the development of air pollution control programs.

Wigley (2006) points out that because air has no geographic border nor physically contained and all countries have to compete for energy sources such as oil, the issue is an inherent global concern. This global perspective is the basis for the Kyoto Protocol which aims to establish an international monitoring and management system for carbon emissions. The Kyoto Protocol sets a quota for industrial emissions per country where residual allowances can be traded off to other countries and economic sanctions can be applied to violators.

Thus, countries are not only politically motivated to control their emissions but also can gain monetary compensation for their efforts. Accession and implementation of the protocol has proven challenging. Opposition to the policies point out that aside from the operational difficulties of the policy and can deter economic growth and development since most industries are energy-intense and impact the environment (Bohan, 2007). Critics of the Kyoto approach to the issue suggest a national interest approach.

In contrast to the former, the latter suggests that, “what’s good for the nation as a whole in international affairs”. Using this perspective, instead of developing an international policy, each country must formulate its own towards a common goal (Roskin, 1994, p. 1). As each country is able to achieve individual environmental goals, public interest, which includes the global community, will be met effectively. Thus, what seems to be an inward-looking or even selfish approach to environment and energy issues can be in fact a means to accomplish international goals.

Critics of the approach contend in turn that there are no assurances that independent states will develop and implement environmental and energy efficiency protocols. Also, they believe that by leaving consequence at the discretion of national governments, implementation will not be effectively policed. To date, there has still has not been full accession to the Kyoto Protocol: the Untied States and Australia have both rejected it. At the same time, national interest approaches have been significant deterred through the need for compliance to international political, security or economic organizations.

According to Setting a Value on the Future, Stephen Gardiner believes that the lack of a consensus on how to deal with the world’s environmental and energy crises is because it is “politically convenient not to deal with”. Both approaches have proven to be extremely problematic. One difficulty that Thomas Palley of the Economics for Democratic and Open Societies sees in national interest perspectives is a “failure to recognize the distinction between corporate and national interests,” (as cited in Jacobson, 2006).

The suggestion is that confusing corporate interests, which primarily is centered on profit, the national interests that will be defined will be the interest of a few instead of the public’s and that it most likely will neither support environmental or conservation objectives (Wigley, 2006). On the other hand, without industrial development, there will be little headway in the development of efficiency and productivity technologies or the means to put them in practice (Jacobson, 2006). The most critical realization is that the issue is not just a political issue.

Just as critical should be the realization that whatever, polices are to be implemented, they should be able to stand the test of time and changes in international relations. This because, achievement of environmental and energy goals will likely take a number of years before they are attained. President George W. Bush has raised a valid point regarding this issue: “The fundamental question is whether or not we will be able to grow our economy and be good stewards of the environment at the same time,” (as cited in Jacobson, 2006).

Neither the Kyoto approach nor the national interest approaches, as they are utilized today, seem to fully address these concerns. However, this should deter the commitment to environmental protection and rehabilitation as well as energy conservation. In conclusion to recognize non-political elements influencing the issue, to institute long-term policies and resources and to develop and implement policies that recognizes both perspectives.


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