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Consequences of Not Responding to the Climatic Change Essay

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Updated: Apr 12th, 2022

Introduction

The world leadership remains on notice over concerns of environmental degradation that has resulted from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. As a UN official who has a high interest on the concerns of the Kyoto Protocol, I am aware that Canada officially withdrew from the treaty in late 2011. This step was taken amidst some nations having already heeded to the call for implementation of policies that seek to reduce GHG emissions to mitigate climate change and its consequences.

For instance, the EU-member nations have been in the forefront to implement the Kyoto Protocol on environmental change. By 2010, the EU had developed various policies to realize this call. However, I wish to ask, ‘what is the position of Canada in the fight against climatic change?’. As the prime minister, you have a wakeup call to ensure that your nation (Canada) fulfills its obligations to comply with the Kyoto Protocol in the effort to enhance environmental sustainability for the benefit of its current and future generation.

From the point of view of a UN official, my letter seek to explain why your nation should review its position on the Kyoto Protocol and make a proposal for possible alternative enforcement mechanisms in addition to consequences of not complying with the commitments. In your reconsideration for a Canadian ministerial position, it is also important for you to note the current progress of the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada’s Responsibility in regards to Climatic Change

The Kyoto Protocol

Summary

I am fully aware that your are cognizant of the fact that the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change) requested all its member states to decrease their levels of GHG emissions in 1992. The goal was to curb the effects of global warming on climatic change, which the UN was concerned that it (global warming) would have negative ramifications such as hunger on global population.

With your nation in attendance, the UNFCCC met in 1997 at Kyoto in Japan to finalize an agreement that sought industrialized nations to set and meet targets for reducing GHG emissions. The ensuing agreement from the 1997 convention, which was signed by 160 UN member states, came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol (Richard Ivey School of Business, 2013).

The decision to take Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol pact that was taken by your nation’s leadership in 2011 is inappropriate, although it is not in violation of compliance requirements. The Kyoto Protocol does not require nations to have the same targets for reduction of GHG emissions. In the 1997 pact, which came into force in 2005, with your nation’s participation, nations were required to meet their own commitments in the reduction of emissions by the end of 2008 to 2012 commitment period (Richard Ivey School of Business, 2013).

The overall goal was to ensure a reduction of global emissions by not less than 5.2% of the total 1990 emission levels. Canada had a commitment to ensure a reduction of its emission by 6% (equivalent to 270 megatons) while the US had a pledge for reduction by 7% and 8 % target in the case of the EU. The Kyoto Protocol also required nations to determine how they would realize their targets. However, the US and various developing nations failed to sign the pact when the time came for its ratification in 2001 (Richard Ivey School of Business, 2013; Blok, de Jager, & Hendriks, 2001).

Your nation signed the pact. Nevertheless, its leadership commitment to the Kyoto Protocol pledges remained questionable as evidenced by its failure of action plans that had been developed to curb climatic changes in 1995 to 2002 (Kyoto Protocol-Canada, n.d). Your nation’s leadership commitment to Kyoto Protocol became clear in December 2011 after the closure of the Durban convention when it formally announced Canada has withdrawn from the only international environmental treaty (Walsh, 2011).

Therefore, if you consider it important to review your position on the Kyoto Protocol, no significant developments have been made further ahead of where Canada left. Thus, your nation can catch up with other countries. Indeed, it is important that you review the nation’s position on the Kyoto Protocol on consideration of the benefits of complying with the pact as my letter reveals.

Benefits

The US made a decision not to support the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 due to fear of its people following the notion that maximum emission limits would raise the cost of production. Your nation claimed that it would not assent to the costly Kyoto Protocol regulations in case the US, its closest competitor, failed to comply.

The justification was that it risked losing its competitive advantage. Amid this potential threat, it is crucial for you to note that the national level implementation of Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol has some benefits. Barnsley (2006) confirms that in the process of negotiation for international environmental treaty, “The Canadian government took a broader view of its national interest, emphasizing the importance of environmental protection and of acting as a good international citizen” (p.400).

Acting as good international citizen requires your nation to implement policies, which reduce the likely global problems that lead to general human sufferings. Upon considering the impacts of GHG emission on the international community, a full implementation of Canada’s obligation to the Kyoto Protocol constitutes one of the best approaches for expression of your leadership’s willingness and dedication to act as a good international citizen.

The UN understands that you are aware that increased levels of GHG emissions pose the risk of global warming, which results in higher melting of ice caps in the polar region. The overall effect of this situation is raising sea level. The outcome is the submergence of the coastal regions (Nordhaus, 2007; Grubb, Hope & Fouquet, 2002). You also understand that GHG emissions present challenges of weather pattern disturbances, which lead to catastrophic storms, flooding, and more instances of drought across the globe.

These problems have impacts on local, national and international relations since they have economic, social, and political implications (Richard Ivey School of Business, 2013). If Canada has to continue operating as a good international citizen outside the Kyoto Protocol membership, it needs to contribute in the resolution or prevention of problems that are associated with global warming.

The requirements for GHG emission reduction agrees with the emerging new environmental friendly technologies such as the production of green cars such as electric cars, greenhouses, and investments in renewable energy across the globe. While the capacity of your nation to adopt these new technologies may determine its future competitive position in the international markets, they constitute a major step towards compliance with the Kyoto Protocol regulations.

In understand that Ottawa developed WPPI (Wind Power Production Incentive) to encourage people to create farms that generate a renewable energy that amounts to 4,000 MW. Although this amount of energy equates to the energy produced at Nanticoke power station, which is also one of the worst sources of GHG emission (Kyoto Protocol-Canada, n.d), it signifies an emerging trend of preference of green energy in your nation.

By encouraging citizens to abide by the Kyoto Protocol commitments, Canada will create avenues for encouraging innovation and creativity. However, this step requires you to lead the way, establish policies, and/or consider alternative enforcement mechanisms to foster environmental sustainability.

Possible Enforcement Mechanisms

Amid your nation’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, its regulation and the suggested ways of reducing GHG emission remains relevant to Canada and the current government, especially in terms of commitment to environmental protection against pollution. Canada has resources, which can act as carbon sinks whilst offering carbon offset possibilities in a national context (Darden Business Publishing, 2011). For instance, your nation has an extensive tree land cover, which can help significantly reduce the amount of green gas emissions if good policies are put in place. Such policies will involve re-forestation and programs that foster better forest management practices.

I believe that you are fully cognizant that Canada also has technological knowhow on capturing major greenhouse gasses and utilizing them for cleaner applications. For instance, it has sufficient knowledge for capturing methane gas that is emitted from decomposition of garbage and utilizing it for electricity generation.

In turn, this plan reduces the amount of fossil fuels that are burned to generate electricity. Even though such as a strategy is critical in the reduction of GHG emission, it is also necessary for you to consider homemade-plan for reduction of GHG emissions through the guidance of the suggested mechanisms of enhancing environmental sustainability to curb climatic change by the Kyoto Protocol as discussed in the next section.

International Emissions Trading

By 1999, emissions in many nations were on an upward trend, well above the 1990 levels (Grant, 1999). This situation occurred when nations such as Canada were fully committed to meeting the 2008-2012 Kyoto Protocol targets. Indeed, in 1998, Ottawa established the position of climatic change secretariat with the mandate of developing and implementing national strategies that would lead to the realization of the Kyoto targets (Grant, 1999).

This move suggested that Canada knew and appreciated the degree of the danger posed by industrial activities that involved the emission of GHG on climatic changes and the resulting problems. Thus, it is not an under approximation that you understand this danger too well with reference to your thoughtfulness of internal emission trading as a possible way of reducing GHG emission, as explained in the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada can identify various international parties with which it can trade emissions under a bilateral carbon trading agreement or even establish internal national laws that require different provinces to engage in the national trade. Under the emission trading approaches, Canada can consider three possible approaches namely, “cap-and-trade, baseline-and credit, and the offset plan” (Darden Business Publishing, 2011, p.3). Amongst these ways, cap-and-trade is a feasible approach for reducing GHG emissions in Canada, although it has not worked quite well in the international platforms.

Joint Implementation Scheme (JI)

Although Canada may experience high costs that are associated with investments in projects that are meant to reduce GHG emissions, it can engage in joint implementation of such projects within a country that is listed under annex 1 of the Kyoto Protocol. The move will demonstrate Canada’s commitment to implement some aspects of the Kyoto Protocol in its effort to pause as a good international citizen.

The country where Canada will invest in such projects will not only gain in terms of knowledge transfer, but also from the investment (Darden Business Publishing, 2011). However, taking such actions attract the question of relative advantage between investing in GHG emission reduction projects in Canada and elsewhere.

Should Canada worry about GHG emissions in other countries, which have almost equal economic development rating with it, especially upon considering that it is no longer a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol? However, your nation has a role to play in showing good leadership on important global issues such as climatic change. It is also unnecessary for Canada to compare itself with other nations in key matters that affect future global society.

Different nations have different costs of running projects. While acting as a good international citizen, it may experience high costs of maintaining environmental sustainability efforts within its jurisdiction. An effort to reduce GHG emissions within a limited period will perhaps call for closure of its highly polluting production plants and develop alternative sources of greener energy. Hence, it may encounter the cost of retarded production.

Canada, being a developed nation, has high costs of labor. However, it is necessary to consider reducing GHG emissions in other nations where such efforts are cheaper due to low labor cost up to a level that is equivalent to the dedication of the Kyoto Protocol. Production plants in Canada do not have to be closed. Commonwealth of Australia (2005) justifies this assertion when it reveals that GHG emission reduction requires cooperation of different nations. Engaging in joint implementation schemes constitutes one of the effective ways of displaying Canada’s cooperation in reducing GHG emissions.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

Brief Summary

Under the Kyoto Protocol, CDM is “a mechanism under which industrialized countries can meet their emission reduction commitments by implementing emissions lessening projects in the developing countries” (Darden Business Publishing, 2011, p.7). Canada, being a developed nation, can play an essential role in reducing GHG emissions both within and outside its jurisdiction. It can lessen GHG production within its authority via internal emission trading strategies such as the cap-and-trade as suggested before. However, the clean development mechanism can enable it contribute towards meeting the Kyoto Protocol by reducing emission in other jurisdictions, especially in the developing nations.

Benefits

Engaging in CDM projects presents immense benefits to Canada, especially in terms of enabling it achieve an objective of remaining a good international citizen. Claims such as the ones advanced by Philibert (2004) and Oberthür and Lefeber (2010) confirm that Canada encountered challenges in achieving its Kyoto Protocol targets due to higher costs that it encountered while looking for more environmental friendly industrial activities.

Therefore, compensating its high GHG emissions with a reduction in GHG emission in developing countries presents a wonderful opportunity for Canada to display its commitment in addressing the global challenge of climatic change.

Developing nations have low industrial activities. This situation implies that they have low electricity power requirements. CDM projects can help developing nations to build cheaper and greener electricity generation plants to drive their emerging industries in a bid to comply with the Kyoto Protocol CDM approach for reducing GHG emissions. Possible projects include solar power generation and storage plants and wind power production plants.

Consequences of not complying with the Kyoto Protocol

Findings

Failing to meet the promises of the Kyoto Protocol limits the capacity of a nation to trade in carbon credits (Richard Ivey School of Business, 2013). Canada is no longer a signatory of the pacts. It does not anticipate any clause of the Kyoto Protocol to apply in its homemade plans for reduction of GHG emissions. Therefore, the paper finds no real consequence in terms of international relations with other nations by failing to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. However, failing to put in place policies that foster environmental sustainability has serious ramifications on its ability to act as a good international citizen.

Canada Outlook

After pulling from the Kyoto Protocol, one might want to know the fate of Canada. The nation has an obligation to participate in the international debate and to enact policies that enhance sustainability of its current resources that are under threat of depletion. For instance, if fossil fuel consumption rate continues as it is today, the remaining reserves cannot last for more than 100 years (Kavalov, 2004). In its absence, as a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada needs to enact a policy that can ensure a shift from dependence on fossil fuels to the operation of its transportation and manufacturing sector.

This move has the effect of lengthening the current fossil fuel reserves. Perhaps, in an attempt to seek alternative sources of fuel or technologies such as green cars, Canada complies indirectly with the long-term vision of the Kyoto Protocol. However, there may be a possibility of the emergence of a Dutch disease if these technologies are not well managed. New technologies may result in high inflow of foreign currency, thus making some exports more expensive compared to imports (Van Wijnbergen, p.984).

Minimization of GHG emissions can be realized through advocating the substitution of fossil fuels with bio-fuels. The case of the EU’s success in the implementation of this strategy makes it effective in the Canadian context in partnership with NFTA member countries. The EU embarked on legislating on a regulation of the use of fossil fuels through the development of policies that encouraged the use of bio-fuels in the transportation and manufacturing sector (Kavalov 2004).

Conclusion

International negotiations that were held from 1994 through 1997 led to the establishment of the Kyoto Protocol. Canada was particularly instrumental in this negotiation process as it found the necessity for enhancing environmental sustainability by reducing any likely effects of increasing the rate of emission of greenhouse gases.

The US decided to withdrawal from the pacts in 2001 citing fears over rising cost of production. Canada saw the US withdrawal as a threat to its competitive advantage, although it ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 (Armstrong, 2002). Products that are produced with higher costs due to the need for complying with the expensive Kyoto Protocol’s regulations will result in the overshooting of prices for Canada’s products in the global market.

Although Canada assented to the pacts in 2005, it lagged behind in terms of achieving its 2008-2012 GHG emissions reduction target of 6% of 1990 levels before finally deciding to withdraw as a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol in late 2011. Amid this withdrawal, as the current prime minister, you need to look for ways of implementing the Kyoto Protocol commitments, which remain relevant to Canada, especially as it endeavors to play its role as a good international citizen.

Reference List

Armstrong, A. (2002). Energy and greenhouse gas balance of bio-fuels for Europe- an update. London: Group on Alternative Fuels.

Barnsley, I. (2006). Dealing With Change: Australia, Canada and the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 95(385), 399-410.

Blok, K., de Jager, D., & Hendriks, C. (2001). Economic Evaluation of Sectoral Emission Reduction Objectives for Climate Change. Athens: National Technical University of Athens.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2005). Tracking to the Kyoto Target. Canberra: Australian Greenhouse Office.

Darden Business Publishing. (2009). Corporate Greenhouse Gas Accounting: Carbon Footprint Analysis. Virginia: University of Virginia.

Darden Business Publishing. (2011). Carbon Credit Markets. Virginia: University of Virginia.

Grant, J. (1999). Canada and Kyoto Protocol. Canadian Business Economics, 7(4), 42-47.

Grubb, M., Hope, C., & Fouquet, R. (2002). Climatic implications of the Kyoto Protocol: The contribution of international spillover. Climatic Change, 5(4), 11–28.

Kavalov, B. (2004). Bio-fuels potential in the EU: Report for the Institute for Perspective Technological Studies. London: European Commission Joint Research Center.

Kyoto Protocol-Canada. (n.d). A Work In Progress. Ottawa, Canada: Kyoto Protocol-Canada.

Nordhaus, W. (2007). A Review of the Stern Review in the Economics of Climatic Change. Journal of Economic American Economic Association, 45(3), 700-719.

Oberthür, S., & Lefeber, R. (2010). Holding Countries to Account: The Kyoto Protocol’s Compliance System Revisited after Four Years of Experience. Climate Law, 1(1), 133–158.

Philibert, C. (2004). Lessons from the Kyoto Protocol: Implications for the Future. International Review for Environmental Strategies, 5(1), 1-12.

Richard Ivey School of Business. (2013). From Kyoto to Copenhagen to Cancun to Durban to Doha: Successes and Failures in the International Climate Negotiations. Ontario, Canada: university of western Ontario.

Van Wijnbergen, S. (1984). The ‘Dutch Disease’: A Disease After All?” The Economic Journal, 94(373), 41-55.

Walsh, B. (2011) Bienvenue au Canada: Welcome To Your Friendly Neighborhood Pestro-State. Web.

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