Why Multilateral Actions on Climate Change Have Been Unsuccessful – Literature review Example

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The paper "Why Multilateral Actions on Climate Change Have Been Unsuccessful" is a wonderful example of a literature review on environmental studies. Climate change is an impending environmental problem facing the world today. It arises from global warming, an occurrence that is mainly instigated by pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide which is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Analysts highlight that climate change is a human-induced global environmental problem that will cause dire problems in the future (Harris, 2007). In order to resolve the problem, nations across the world have come together with the objective of finding amicable solutions to the problem.

Some of the multilateral actions to curb climate change include; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, and the Copenhagen Accord. Despite the coming together of nations to resolve the problem, multilateral actions on the issue of climate change have not been fruitful. This paper seeks to analyze the reasons why multilateral actions on climate change have not been successful. The scope of the analysis will be grounded on the issue of politics in the governance of climate change, problems in the process of negotiating agreements on climate change, and the issue of institutional capacity. Politics has been outlined as one of the main contributory factors leading to the failure of multilateral actions on climate change.

Edenhofer et al (2012) disclose that climate politics frequently capture excessive attention on international agenda’ s which further results to the reduced commitment of members and failure of most multilateral actions. A manifestation of climate politics is in the existence of a conflict of interest.

When evaluating the 2009 Copenhagen conference, for instance, it can be stated that conflict of interest took a center stage in influencing the events that unfolded. Although most parties acknowledged that something must be done in order to curb climate change, nevertheless, divisions arose concerning the most viable approach of dealing with the problem (Salehyan and Hendrix, 2010). For example; many EU countries and the developing world propagated the view that only a comprehensive and universal treaty that was characterized by strong commitments for the reduction of emissions stood a chance of deterring the menace of global warming.

On the other hand, The United States a major emitter held the view that attaining a consensus through the use of a global treaty was unrealistic. Thus, the US preferred the development of a global policy on climate change through the use of the bottom-up approach where the action is taken on the domestic level. Emerging economies such as China had sovereignty concerns; however, they merged with the G-77 bloc of developing nations in demanding the creation of a framework that is legally binding for mitigation by industrialized nations (Falkner, et al 2010).

It can be argued that the existence of varied viewpoints concerning amicable solutions to resolving climate change was characterized by the existence of a conflict of interest by various factions. Each faction had personal interests that influenced their view on how climate change can be dealt with. Conflict of interest, therefore, influenced the failure of the conference. Another political aspect that has influenced the failure of multilateral actions on climate change is the existence of power tussles /struggles and the need to demonstrate how powerful a nation is within the global context.

Luterbacher and Sprinz, (2001) argue that in most multilateral actions, participants are always in a bid to demonstrate just how powerful they are. This majorly occurs among powerful countries of the world who want to demonstrate their hegemony. As propagated by the hegemonic stability theory, international cooperation in most cases is characterized by the degree to which an actor can demonstrate its dominance in politics. In most cases, the hegemon has the resources that can be used to influence policies and transform international structures (Luterbacher and Sprinz, 2001).

The need to prove an actor’ s hegemony has in most cases brought about power struggles and failure of multilateral actions.


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