The 1997 Kyoto Protocol sought to limit emissions of fossil fuels. The Japan-negotiated agreement sought to limit emissions of greenhouse gases by affluent and wealthy countries. However, the less affluent countries were left to make voluntary contributions as to the greenhouse gases limit. Towards this end, India and China as well as other less affluent nations have stepped up pressure upon wealthy nations to act first in fighting effects of climate change like global warming. The argument is that rich industrialised nations are culpable for the ever-rising global temperatures (Doyle & McEachern 2007). While Kyoto Protocol aims at limiting emissions of fossil fuels, richer countries led by European Union (EU) and the U.S. want all nations to be proactive and make a cut in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. On the other hand, less affluent nations such as India and China want developed nations to move in first. They want wealthy countries to enumerate their mitigation pledges.
Climate change is met with scepticism by less affluent nations like India and China for many reasons. The Kyoto Agreement sought to treat them preferentially in comparison to the more affluent nations. The fact that the pact aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouse gases by the developed countries leaves less affluent countries to make voluntary contribution as far as climate change is concerned is wanting. The protocol created division between the poor and the rich countries in action differentiation amongst nations. The 2009 Copenhagen talks never reached an accord on mitigating pledges by developed nations. Climate change does affect all of us. However, the less affluent nations are most vulnerable. They also do not possess the ability to act. For this reason, it becomes incumbent for all nations to make fair contributions towards solving the climate change problem.
Another less affluent nation Brazil has asked rich industrialised nations to count the greenhouse gases emissions since 1850 in order to come up with targets. Less affluent nations assert that wealthy nations created the global warming problem. Therefore, they should fix it. Understanding this history will facilitate the setting of new targets. While it is important to mobilise the less affluent nations to be part of some newfangled commitment, it is important to account for the past greenhouse gases emissions (Yamaguchi 2012). Therefore, it is only fair that rich countries take a leading role in dealing with pollution-induced global warming in tandem with historical responsibilities. Indeed, mitigation efforts by the less affluent nations like India, China, South Africa and Brazil are relatively stable in comparison with those of the more affluent nations. Thus, the less affluent nations feel like the developed countries have never accepted the Kyoto Protocol.
Today, the greatest challenge that is faced by the planet Earth remains global warming. Both oceans and the atmosphere are warming. This has culminated to climate change that has brought hardships and uncertainties everywhere. Climate change has intensified the occurrence of harsh weather events such as droughts and floods. It has also resulted to pathogens spread to newfangled areas, augmented human mortality, adverse effects upon agricultural products, coastal erosion, melting glaciers as well as many innumerable changes. Arguably, the less affluent nations face the highest blunt of climatic changes (Bulkeley & Newell 2010). People in such countries are harmed the most. Due to their limited resources and vulnerable locations, it is hard for these people to adapt. While the precise effects and pace of climatic change remains uncertain, it is no justification for failure to act. The resultant climate change is inevitable. In fact, adverse climatic changes can be prevented. Despite the apparent danger, it is presently both diplomatically and politically impractical to cap greenhouse pollutants emission especially by affluent countries.
Soon, global warming consequences will be quite severe and murderous especially for the vulnerable and the poor. Slow action or inaction will result into catastrophic impacts. Global warming ethics inevitably lays responsibility upon industrialised nations. The less affluent nations argue that the developed countries have contributed to climate change. For this reason, it is important that these countries devise ways to assuage it. Presently, about 50% of emissions of greenhouse gases – mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of natural gas, oil, coal and fossil fuels – come from the rich industrialised nations to produce energy for transportation, heat and industry (Doyle & McEachern 2007). Moreover, agricultural activities and deforestation produce climate-changing emissions.
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Historical evidence points out that these countries are the greatest sources of the pollutants. In short, developing countries exonerate themselves of the blame. For instance, carbon dioxide emissions produced by a typical Australian or American are more than those produced by a typical Chinese or Indian person. However, the U.S. bears more liability. With about 5% of the global population, the U.S. produces approximately 25% of the globe’s greenhouse gases (Doyle & McEachern 2007). Most of these gases come from nonessential and frivolous activities. Less affluent nations argue that their emissions are caused by the activities that are important for survival and achieving fundamental living standard. Therefore, the U.S. has a heavier responsibility in acting upon the climate change problem. However, the U.S. and other more affluent nations take less action. They are doing little to prevent the future effects of inevitable climate change. This is a reason why climate change has been met with scepticism in less affluent nations like India and China.
Although governments have continued to sign agreements on the inevitable climate change, what they have done is relatively little in comparison to the problem posed by the challenge. In 1992, the more affluent nations agreed upon the Framework Convention on Climate Change that sought considerably reduce the emission of greenhouse gases voluntarily by the level of 2000 to the levels of 1990. The less affluent nations argue that the developed countries did not keep their word. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol sought to ratify nations to decrease emissions to approximately 5% below the 1990 levels. This has had to be done by 2012. Again, most affluent nations have not done this. Indeed, the emissions by the industrialised nations, especially the U.S., continued to increase. In fact, the U.S. repudiated the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 (Skodvin 2000). From an equity perspective, the affluent nations excused the less affluent nations from the reduction. The affluent nations persuaded the developing countries to reduce their emissions. This is because the developing countries are emerging as the chief climate pollution sources.
The need for differentiated responsibilities in addressing the climate change problem is important in ensuring that developed nations act first. However, the less affluent nations like India, China, Brazil and South Africa are sceptical about this approach. This is because instead of following this consensus, the developed countries are pushing developing countries to decrease their emissions of greenhouse gases before the U.S. does so. However, it is important for the developing countries to limit greenhouse gases emissions. Demanding that developing countries act first remains patently unfair. Equity is important in addressing the problem of climate change. The ‘polluter pays’ principle is inherently sensitive and fair. It is important to ensure that climate change does not worsen the inequities. The less affluent nations need international assistance. Less affluent nations contend that the developed countries are not putting equity before efficiency in addressing the climate change problem (Yamaguchi 2012).
The less affluent nations see developed nations as the major obstacle towards a global squashed actualising and recognising atmospheric rights. Climate change sceptics argue that the wealthy and developed countries have refused to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The inevitability of climate change calls for clear mitigation efforts. Developing nations contend that this ecological crisis requires distributive justice. This way, mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change is possible. It is important that countries realise that climate change has become a significant threat facing the Earth today (Skodvin 2000). Addressing the problem of climate change requires reduction in huge cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases. Switching to alternative energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear from fossil-based energy sources reduces emissions. It is important to note that developing countries like India and China, just like developed countries, are concerned more about maintenance of strong economic growth and not addressing climate change.
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International negotiations on climate change have yielded petite results. This has been the consequence of scepticism by less affluent countries such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa. Lack of mutual recrimination amongst countries has aggravated the climate change problem. It is important that countries like India and China also play a leading role in addressing climate change. However, industrialised and wealthy nations should cut emissions of greenhouse gases early. Additionally, big and less affluent countries should make some complementary contributions by financing technological development and cutting energy subsidies. Cooperation is essential in addressing the climate change problem. The scepticism by the less affluent nations also stem from blatant disregard of agreements. For instance, the actuation of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2009 Copenhagen Accord as well as the climate change pacts in Cancun (2010), Durban (2011) and Doha (2012) is a tall order. These climate change agreements have only served in giving hope bereft of achievable, concrete and realistic commitments in addressing the climate change problem. The argument that developed countries are responsible for huge greenhouse gases emission is sound. This has pre-empted both developments as well as growth prospects in less affluent nations. Contrariwise, the wealthy industrialised countries contend that developing-nation emitters like India and China are now responsible for emissions of these gases. Therefore, cooperation cannot progress without them. It is important to realise that the old climate change narrative has been overtaken by events. The major shift in the new narrative is that emerging economies of Brazil, India, Indonesia and China will lose most in case of inaction. Therefore, it is important that the less affluent nations lead in addressing the climate change problem. It is also vital that every country puts emphasis upon generation of technology.
In conclusion, current paper has demonstrated that indeed, rich industrialised nations are responsible for climate change. Therefore, it is only reasonable and fair that they take more responsibility in addressing this problem. However, it is important to note that while industrialisation of the rich affluent nations caused the climate change problem, the firewall between developing and developed nations that has prompted the 20-year-old climate debate no longer reflects today’s world. In fact, China has overtaken America as the acme carbon polluter in the world. The burden of beneficial environmental protection has to be fairly distributed.