For a while, human’s main concern was of them only. As we entered a new millennium, human impacts on the environment are becoming not only more visible but incredibly condemning on every single creature on earth and following generations to a much less happier and healthier life. The environment is probably the most concerning global issue currently. Many measures in order to prevent its total disruption are being adopted. However, agreement between each country on one particular global issue, for example, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, cannot be reached since each country looks at what is economically best for them.
Signs of environmental degradation are everywhere. Almost 40% of the earth’s land has been destroyed and the planets protective ozone layer has been ‘badly damaged, while record-high carbon emissions cause smog and acid rain, and contribute to global warming and climate change.’ Land that were used for pasturing are of no longer use which is why they are turning into deserts at ‘an alarming rate’ while coastal areas are threatened by flooding from the effect of global warming. One of the factors which allows for this ‘green-house effect’ is the alarming rate of CO2.
So far, actions have been made concerning CO2 emissions. For example, The Kyoto Protocol was put into force on the 16th of February, 2005; It is an ‘amendment to the international treaty on climate change, assigning mandatory emission limitations for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the signatory nations.’1 Its main objective is the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.2 The Protocol now covers more than 160 countries globally and over 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the Kyoto protocol is a well introduced treaty, international agreement is made difficulty because of what has been granted to other countries depending on their stage of development.
The United States, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, Australia and Kazakhstan, have refused to ratify the treaty. China and India, two other large emitters, have ratified the treaty but, as developing countries, are exempt from its provisions. Developed countries are forced to reduce dramatically their polluting gas emissions yet those countries that are less developed, are asked to reduce their CO2 emissions but are exempt from its provisions. Developed countries will therefore retaliate or refuse to agree with the treaty as other countries are not being forced on by CO2 emission figures as they are.
This is why USA’s current president, George W. Bush have stated that he does not intend to submit the treaty for ratification not because he does not support it but because of the exemption granted to China (the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide). This has not only been seen in the Americas but also in many countries around the world such ad Russia and Australia where the nation leaders have made it clear that they do not wish to commit to this protocol because of the strain believed that the treaty would put on the economy due to the present uncertainties in the climate change issue. On the G8 summit in 2005, administration officials expressed a desire for “practical commitments industrialized countries can meet without damaging their economies”. It’s been two year now since that conference on 2005 and although they’ve failed to achieve their goals concerning climate changed, new aims have been introduced at its latest conference on June 2007.
On this year’s G8 summit, it has been targeted to at least halve global CO2 emissions by 2050’. The agreement was welcomed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair as ‘a major, major step forward’. French president Nicolas Sarkozy would have preferred a binding figure for emissions reduction to have been set. This was apparently blocked by U.S. President George W. Bush until the other major greenhouse gas emitting countries, like India and China, make similar commitments. Positive changes and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of each country are expected to be decreased.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, ‘It is more difficult to clean up existing environmental disasters and stop further degradation of important natural resources.’ However, public awareness about what we can do as individuals in protecting our environment is growing. I think that we could protect the environment by creating conditions that allow all people to make environmentally appropriate decisions about how they live and consume scarce resources. This means addressing the economic and social differences that often force people to have large families and to damage the environment just to survive. It also means eliminating economic and social policies that promote over-consumption and unsustainable production.
One important way to protect and restore the environment is to shift taxes onto things we don’t want such as pollution, resource wasting and excess consumption. Another is to develop and implement renewable, non-polluting energy systems, including solar and hydrogen fuel technologies. These efforts would improve the health of families, communities and ecosystems, and create a strong, sustainable economy along the way.
I believe that overall international agreement will not be available to us since many nations are focused on how changes could negatively affect them and not how it will also affect others. However, changes can be made even slightly which will in the end contribute to a cleaner and well kept environment.