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Anthropogenic Climate Change and Policy Problems Essay

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Updated: Jan 10th, 2021

Introduction

The issue of climate change has been recognized as a serious challenge of national and global scale for several decades. To address the problem of climate change, authorities representing the fields of politics, business, science, and economics are to join their efforts in the hope of creating effective policies helping to minimize and reverse the adverse impact the activities of humankind have on the environment.

However, to address this problem successfully, global cooperation on an unprecedented scale is required; this is the case because the anthropogenic climate change is the result of a multitude of activities such as transportation, production, and consumption (Helm 11). In the contemporary world, the recognition of the problem of climate change is resulting in its treatment on a local level targeting specific areas, individual businesses, and urban structures; however, in reality, the consequences of this issue would be likely to produce a global effect causing changes in ecosystems and biodiversity, leading to the alteration of the oceanic currents and the following displacement of large population groups, damaging businesses, and industries, weakening economies (Helm 11).

Acknowledging the real scale of the problem is just one of the multitude of steps that are required for the creation of policies able to produce noticeable effects on the issue. In other words, a new way of thinking, a global agreement, joined efforts, and a reinvention of national and global economies would have to take place for positive changes to occur regarding the environmental issues.

Policy Problems Associated with Anthropogenic Climate Change

Throughout the history of our planet, the change in its climate had been driven solely by the natural factors and causes; in the modern world, it is created artificially due to the activities of people (Nordhaus 4). The primary cause of man-made climate change is represented by the CO2 emissions that occur from burning fossil fuels used in transportation and production (Nordhaus 4). Compared with the approximate level of air pollution in the times preceding industrialization, the contemporary atmosphere is in a much poorer state; moreover, the situation is going to become increasingly worse in the next several decades if the amount of emissions is not minimized in the nearest time (Nordhaus 4).

The effects and causes of climate change today are viewed as the phenomena involved in a cyclic dependency. In particular, the growth and development of the economy are seen as the cause of the increase in the amount of produced CO2; in turn, the latter tendency contributes to the development of climate change (higher temperature, rising sea-level, among other effects); consequently, the environmental effects result in the economic changes such as coastal flooding, hurricanes, destruction of ecosystems, migration of species, to name a few); to address the destructive climate changes, policies are created that reduce emissions, and, as a responsible economic growth continues leading to more emissions and harmful influences (Nordhaus 10).

The latter two connections have not been properly established yet; however, the cyclical model presented by Nordhaus reflects the complexity of the problem very well. In particular, since the scale of the problem is very large and the spectrum of its impact – very broad, it tends to result in a multitude of consequences occurring in a variety of spheres. Addressing all of them at the same time is not only very expensive but also requires thoroughly planned and coordinated actions of many people, organizations, and, sometimes, states. In the vast majority of cases, the environmental changes are caused by the human activities that are very difficult (or even impossible) limit and regulate – such as manufacturing, farming, and transportation.

The Importance of the International Realm for Dealing with Climate Change

Since the problem of climate change has global nature and produces effects worldwide, the representatives of many states must join their efforts in the attempts to address and minimize the adverse environmental outcomes. Because the environmental impacts of anthropogenic origin tend to affect common, global resources, the importance of this issue is very high. In particular, the atmosphere, as well as the ocean’s deep sea beds are the resources that do not have boundaries and are not divided between states (Vogler 35). In other words, the pollution of air or water in one country may produce negative effects on the population of the neighboring states.

To protect the common resources such as oceans and the global atmosphere, the countries need to act in agreement, work out, and launch the specifically designed policies at the same time. Otherwise, an effective change is impossible to achieve.

The global agreement is complicated by the fact that there exist several different perspectives on the issue and the authorities of some states do not recognize it or refer to prioritize some other issues; the latter attitude is especially common in the developing states where there are more essential public concerns than environmental change on the global scale (Sachs 394-397).

Political Challenges

Due to the complications related to the establishment of global agreement and unity regarding environmental concerns, the UN Convention that has been active for quite some time now does not seem to show any significant results; this is especially noticeable in the ongoing growth of as the production, consumption, and transportation – the major sources of CO2 emissions.

Another political challenge is presented by the different attitudes towards the causes of pollution practiced in various countries. While the developed countries begin to prioritize sustainability, recycling, and smart distribution of resources, the developed states enjoy the benefits of the increased production powering international trading relationships and feeding the state economies. Moreover, this tendency is aggravated by the Western tendency of outsourcing the productions to the developing countries where the costs of manufacturing are lower (along with the standards and limitations for the production) (Harvey).

As a result, the negative effects such as air, soil, and water pollution are not reduced or eliminated but are simply moved from the countries with higher standards for environmental control to the ones with looser and more ambiguous policies. Consequently, since there is no internationally established limitation on the production regulations and no global agency that would enforce the regulations, the inconsistency of emissions and pollutions persists, thus preventing the organizations that attempt to address the environmental problems from making any difference on the global scale (Harvey).

Additionally, the issue of framing is another political challenge as it defines the society’s perception of the significance of climate change and the level of people’s involvement in it, as well as the potential impact they could make attempting to address the problem (Vogler 13). Promoting awareness and informing about change could make a difference regarding people’s readiness to embrace green initiatives.

Why Pricing Carbon is an Important Strategy to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Pricing carbon is a strategy that pursues four major goals. The first objective carries the informative and educational purposes to some extent; in particular, pricing carbon will help the consumers, as well as manufacturers, gain a better awareness of the activities, services, and products that are in direct connection with CO2 emissions, and due to that, should be treated with more thought (Nordhaus 6). Secondly, the manufacturers will be encouraged to switch from more harmful ways of production to safer and more sustainable ones; the deeper knowledge of the kinds of activities that contribute to pollution will help them tackle the problems more precisely (Nordhaus 6).

Thirdly, the general awareness will facilitate the social, business, and organizational, and scientific efforts aimed at finding solutions eliminating harmful activities and replacing them with saver ways out. Finally, the prices for carbon emissions will help save time and effort regarding information that is needed to accomplish the aforementioned objectives (Nordhaus 6).

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Various Policy Tools Used to Give Carbon a Price

When it comes to the mechanisms of carbon pricing, there exist two major strategies that are used to accomplish this goal. The first approach is based on the assignment of taxes covering the CO2 emissions produced by different businesses and organizations; this tax is referred to as the “carbon tax” and can be likened to the purchase of gasoline by the companies (Nordhaus 223). The second approach to carbon pricing is accomplished through what is known as the “cap and trade” strategy, a more indirect approach where the is an established limit for emissions exceeding a certain amount; however, in this system, the companies who managed to limit their emissions can trade them for a price with the other companies who are about to exceed their limits (Brown, Hanafi, and Petsonk 6).

The advantage of both of these approaches is in the establishment of a condition under which most businesses would likely become more attentive toward the emissions they produce and attempt to introduce measures aiming at limiting the harm they cause to the environment. However, the major disadvantage is that the larger and richer corporations (that are also the biggest polluters) could increase their income and adjust their budget to pay the carbon tax without having to minimize their emissions. In that way, the carbon tax strategy could, in fact, potentially result in more emissions.

In this regard, cap and trade is a more beneficial strategy because it provides the manufacturers using more sustainable technologies for their productions with an additional source of income (through the trade of emissions). This approach is less direct but is likely to facilitate a more active change.

Conclusion

Climate change is a widely recognized challenge of global nature that has resulted from the rapid industrialization, growing consumerism, and the development of technologies leading to the maximization of harmful environmental effects caused by humankind. Since the problem tends to affect the common global resources such as the oceans, sea beds, and the atmosphere, states all around the world must join their efforts in the attempt to address the issue.

However, little success has been achieved in this regard due to the lack of global agreement on the problem, the unprecedented scale of the organization required, and the cost of measures needed to achieve noticeable results. CO2 emissions are known to be the leading cause of global climate change; and that is why they are addressed with the help of policies limiting air pollution via taxation and “car and trade” strategies. However, as long as there are states that prefer to increase their productions at the expense of the environment, the efforts aimed at tackling the problem continue to resemble sweeping the dust under the carpet but not getting rid of it altogether.

Works Cited

Brown, Lucas, Alex Hanafi, and Annie Petsonk. The EU Emissions Trading System. Environmental Defense Fund, 2012.

Harvey, Fiona. “The Guardian. 2012. Web.

Helm, Dieter. Climate-Change Policy. Oxford University Press, n.d.

Nordhaus, William D. The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World. Yale University Press, 2013.

Sachs, Jeffrey. The Age of Sustainable Development. Columbia University Press, 2015.

Vogler, John. Climate Change in World Politics. Springer, 2016.

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