After years of releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, the global climatic trends have been disrupted leading to a rise in incidents of undesirable conditions like drought (Marsh and Henrik 2000).
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Climate change has reached alarming levels and, over time, countries have come out to declare their intention to deal with the issues. This essay seeks to evaluate the United Nation’s response to the issue of climate change.
The United Nation’s Response to climate change
The Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan
In 1992, countries came together in an international treaty dubbed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (US National Research Council 2008). The primary goal of this treaty was to try and come up with methods of cutting back the global temperature rise and the subsequent climate change.
The treaty also aimed at coming up with measures to deal with the impact of the climate change (Edwards and Miller 2001). The talks continued for the next three years and, in 1995, it was agreed that climate change was an issue that could only be addressed from a global perspective.
This led to the adoption of Kyoto Protocol two years later (International Energy Agency 2011). The Kyoto Protocol was a legal agreement that any signatory country had to ensure that their toxic missions were significantly reduced. In 2007, the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in the Indonesia.
Out of the conference 187 countries committed to continue with talks aimed at giving strength to the process of global warming reduction (Government of Japan 2008).
The eventual action plan, title the Bali Action Plan, aimed at ascertaining the global response to climate change through the following four key objectives: mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing (Government of Japan 2008). The section below shall briefly explain the proposed strategies for the attainment of the four items of the Bali Action Plan.
In order to effectively deal with the climate change issue, it was decided that countries set up measures to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This would be achieved through the following methods:
Reduction commitments-Most of the nations in the developed world agreed to put measures in place to help reduce emissions by the year 2020 (Pash 2010).
Emission reduction-Some of the measures that were proposed for helping in the reduction of greenhouse gases included a reduction in demand for goods and services whose production involved a heavy discharge of emissions (Pash 2010).
The utilization of low-carbon technology and the embracement of renewable energy were also pointed out as one of the ways to help reduce the discharge of emissions (Ekardt and von Hövel 2009).
Emission absorption-The establishment of absorption receptors for carbon dioxide was pointed out as one way of helping reduce the amount already in the atmosphere. Some of these receptors include forests and peat bogs (Now, up to and beyond 2012 2012).
Unlike mitigation, which focuses on the causes of climate change, adaptation primary tackles its effects. Adaptation involves making preparations for tackling the effects of climate change, realizing that it cannot be completely avoided (Pash 2010).
Some of the adaptation measures that were proposed in Bali, included the construction of water reservoirs and practicing environmentally-friendly agricultural practices such as crop rotation.
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In the process of reducing global warming, the usage of energy techniques which emit fewer gases was pointed out as one of the best supportive techniques to implement (William 2005).
These clean energy techniques include solar and wind power. It was declared that industrialized countries will provide the developing countries with the necessary financial and technological support to meet this objective.
In order to meet the objectives outlined by the other blocks of the Bali Action Plan, proper financing measures had to be taken (McKibben 2011). To raise the necessary amount of money to help deal with the issue of climate change, it was decided that both public and private methods of fundraising be used.
It was also agreed that countries, particularly those in the developing world, receive grants periodically, to help them effectively contribute to the process of global warming control.
The Cancun Agreements
In 2010, the Climate Change Conference was held in Mexico and in its conclusion decisions had been made to further enhance the process of emission reduction in all countries including the provision of support for climate change intervention in developing countries (The Cancun Agreements 2012).
This was the Cancun Agreement, named after the city of Cancun, where the discussions were held.
The Durban Platform and the Bonn conference
In 2011, the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Durban South Africa, and it was decided that states should adopt a common legal agreement on the climate change before 2015 (United Nations 2010).
In May 2012, governments that took place in the 2011 Durban Conference met in Bonn, where the progress that had been made was outlined. It was concluded that the process of dealing with climate change should move to the implementation stage (United Nations 2010).
In the meeting, it was announced that the construction of Climate Technology Center, proposed in the 2010 Cancun Conference, would start expeditiously (United Nations 2010). It was also decided that developing countries be given the necessary financial and technological support needed to get them to embrace the reduction of greenhouse emissions.
This was to be achieved through the Green Climate Fund which is expected to become operational in 2013. In terms of long-term financing, the countries voted for the ignition of processes needed to raise a total of $100billion per year by the year 2020, to go into the cause (United Nations 2010).
An adaptation committee was also established and mandated to kick-off adaptation efforts. Governments also agreed to put measures in place to help in the recognition of slow-onset events, such as the rise of sea levels, most of which ended up causing loss and damage.
Strengths and limitations
The United Nations has responded to climate change by holding various conferences to discuss the techniques that can be used to help deal with issue. The first conference was held in 2002 and since then a few more have been held, each analyzing whether the plans to tackle the challenge are still on.
Even though, the time taken in discussions appears to be on the higher side, the process of dealing with climate change will be more effective if more time is taken in planning, fundraising and the drafting of legislation to help make the implementation process more fluid.
It would take a committed effort from each country in the world to help deal with the global issue of climate change and adequate preparations have to be made. However, if the process takes too long to kick-off and a lot of money is spent in holding conventions, the initial focus may be lost, while the situation continues to worsen.
This essay had set out to establish the steps taken by the United Nations (UN) to deal with the global issue of climate change. It has been discovered that the UN has had a number of conferences to lay the ground-work for tackling the issue, with the first committed step coming with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. It has also been concluded that care needs to be taken to ensure that practical control steps are taken before it is too late.
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Ekardt, F & Von Hövel, A 2009, ‘Distributive Justice, Competitiveness, and Transnational Climate Protection’, Carbon & Climate Law Review, vol. 3 no.9, pp. 102–114.
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International Energy Agency 2011, ‘CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion – 2011 Highlights’, IEA, vol. 11 no. 23, p. 12.
Marsh, N & Henrik, S 2000, ‘Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate’, Space Science Reviews, vol. 94 no.2, pp.215–230.
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William, R 2005, Plows, plagues, and petroleum: how humans took control of climate, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.