Political Economy of Global Environmental Problems: With Essay

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Political Economy of Global Environmental Problems:

With the increasing globalization measures, there are various environmental problems that have continued to affect the entire world. These global environmental problems have affected almost every society in the world because of their impact on the earth's natural processes. Some of these environmental problems include climate change, acid rain, water pollution, depletion of the Ozone layer, destruction of rain forest, overpopulation, and sustainable development. One of the most common features in all the global environmental problems is the fact that each has causes, various impacts, and a solution.

Climate Change:

This is one of the major and widely known environmental problems that are largely caused by human activities that emit greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere. Based on recent analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it's estimated that the average surface temperature has increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius. The increase in the global average surface temperature has already shown adverse impacts during the 20th Century. Some of its major consequences include the increase in the global average sea level and the frequent and intensified droughts in various parts in Asia and Africa. Furthermore, in many mid and high latitudes of continents in the Northern Hemisphere, the precipitation level has continued to increase by approximately 1% every decade ("Global Environmental Problems," n.d.).

Global climate change has been enhanced by the increased emissions of various greenhouses gases, particularly carbon dioxide. The emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere happens when various products are burned including wood, wood products, fossil fuels, and solid waste. The other greenhouse gas contributing to climate change is methane which is emitted through the manufacture and transportation of oil, coal, and natural gas. This substance is also emitted when there is decomposition of organic wastes in solid waste landfills and livestock raising. The third major greenhouse gas resulting in global warming is nitrous oxide that is emitted through combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste and industrial and agricultural activities.

The significant effects of human health brought by climate change are widely recognized because these changes disrupt weather patterns and disturb the natural processes and systems that support life. However, the impacts of climate change will significantly affect people groups that are least able to adapt i.e. vulnerable sections in the society like children and the poor. Some of the various measures that have been taken to combat the effects and reduce global climate change include the establishment of the Climate convention and the Kyoto protocol.

Kyoto Protocol:

The Kyoto Protocol is a global agreement associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The main objective of the protocol is to unite countries in order to lessen global warming and deal with the impacts of the unavoidable increase in temperature in the pre-industrialization period. As compared to provisions in the UNFCCC which urged industrialized countries to stabilize the emission of greenhouse gases, the protocol commits these countries to do so because it's legally binding ("Kyoto Protocol, n.d.).

In order to ensure that these countries are held accountable for the amount of greenhouse gases there emit to the atmosphere, the protocol contains various mechanisms. These mechanisms are geared towards encouraging green investment and assisting ratified countries to meet their emission goals in a cost-effective means. These mechanisms include registry systems, compliance systems, recording of transactions, adaptation, and reporting. Moreover, the protocol establishes specific emission lessening targets for every industrialized nation excluding developing countries. Some of the strategies that these countries are encouraged to implement include establishing restrictions on their biggest polluters, management of transportation systems, and effective use of renewable sources of energy.

Political and Economic Analysis of the Kyoto Protocol:

The politicization of the changes in global environmental stability has already brought both scientific substantiation and uncertainties in national and global policy formation. The evaluation of these changes will continue to be influenced by these political processes and discourse. Furthermore, these political processes will significantly influence social reactions to these global concerns as well as the scientific and technological alternatives. The establishment of the Kyoto Protocol is a product of political negotiation and diplomatic compromise, which has continued to attract political debates across the globe especially from ratified countries. In certain quarters, it's considered as an approach
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by politicians with aspiration goals and objectives that re hugely characterized by numerous promises. As a politically drive agenda hinged on various processes, the politics surrounding this process are evident in the fear of implementation and the minimal realized achievements.

Economically, the Kyoto protocol requires a net global cost of approximately $716 billion in order to achieve its intended goals. Due to the huge emissions of greenhouse gases as compared any other country, the United States is expected to bear an estimated two-thirds of the huge net global cost. On the other hand, the benefit-cost ratio of implementation of specified measures and strategies in the Kyoto Protocol is 1/7. Therefore, this emission mechanism is highly cost-ineffective since the realization of reduced global temperature is almost 8 times its costs (Nordhaus & Boyer, 1999).

While the Koto protocol has received support from many industrialized nations across the globe, the United States withdrew from it despite being the leading nation in the emission of greenhouse gases. Actually, the United States accounts for over 25% of greenhouse gases emitted by human activities more than any other country. While Bush promised to lessen America's emission of carbon dioxide, he withdrew the country's support for the protocol and declined to present it to the Congress for approval. However, Bush was not alone in this decision since the U.S. Senate had agreed to reject any protocol without binding targets for both developing and industrialized countries (West, n.d.).

Reasons for America's Withdrawal:

There are various reasons attributed to America's withdrawal from supporting and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol including & #8230;

Exclusion of Developing Countries:

Based on the resolution passed by the United States Senate, America rejected ratification of any protocol that excluded developing countries from binding targets and timetables towards reduction of greenhouse gases emissions. This decision is regarded as a purely political initiative because of the emergence of China and its increasing greenhouse gases emissions. The political motive that had an influence in this decision is the exclusion of China from obligations to lessen emissions of greenhouse gases though it will surpass America's emissions rate by 2013.

Economic Implications:

The second major reason for America's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol is because of the economical implications it would have on the country. Given that America was to cater for two-thirds of the global net cost because of its leading emissions, supporting the initiative would require huge amount of money. If the United States were to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the country would spend a lot of money in abiding with the specified measures resulting in serious harm to America's economy.

China and the Kyoto Protocol:

China is amongst the over 160 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol though it's exempted from obligations to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. This is largely because it's considered as one of the developing though it will become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases by 2013. The Chinese government ratified the protocol on the belief that it provides essential principles and an effective framework for combating climate change worldwide. Furthermore, this decision is regarded as the country's positive standpoint towards global co-operation and sustainable development throughout the world. While various countries have raised concerns regarding the cost-effectiveness of Kyoto Protocol's measures, China expects an ongoing commitment to the treaty.

Reason for China's Support for Extension of the Kyoto Protocol:

The major reason why China supports the extension of the Kyoto Protocol is because of its exclusion from mandatory requirements to lessen the emission of greenhouse. While it's the biggest emitter of these gases, the country has refused any new binding targets that would require it to reduce its emissions. Together with Canada and Russia, China has stated that it won't accept new binging objectives unless all the major economies in the world are included (Carr & Morales, 2011). Following the implementation of efforts to lessen emissions by major economies in the world including America, many industrialization processes have shifted to China. This increase in industrialization processes has not only increased China's emission of greenhouse gases but it has also resulted in huge economic benefits for the country. Given the huge economic benefits, China will continue to support the extension of the Kyoto protocol even in the next 20 years.

Political and Economic Analysis for the Effects of Fukushima Accident:

While the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was not affected by the earthquake estimated to be 9.1 in magnitude, it was destroyed by the accompanying tsunami in Japan in March 2011. This tsunami destroyed the plant's cooling system and its backup systems resulting in the overheating of the reactors and the explosion of the developed hydrogen. However, the huge leakage of radioactive material into the environment was prevented by the structures of containment…

Sources Used in Documents:


Aldrich, D. (2011, August 25). Nuclear Power's Future in Japan and Abroad: The Fukushima

Accident in Social and Political Perspective. Retrieved October 30, 2011, from http://www.paristechreview.com/2011/08/25/nuclear-fukushima-accident-social-political-perspective/

Asheim, G.B. (2007, January 31). Economic Analysis of Sustainability. Retrieved October 30,

2011, from http://folk.uio.no/gasheim/sust0101.pdf

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