Will Politicians Take Action And Try To Save The Planet From Climate Change?

Will Politicians Take Action And Try To Save The Planet From Climate Change? Shouting out loud. Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.

I am scared of climate change and the fact that a lot of adults aren’t taking it seriously – do you think politicians will take action and try to save what we have left? – Carolina, aged 15, Santiago de Chile.

Climate change is the most pressing threat humanity has ever faced. Changes in the natural balance of the Earth’s atmosphere, caused by human behaviour, are having a major impact on the environment. Hurricanes are becoming larger and more powerful than in the past. Floods cover vast regions, causing people to lose their homes. Droughts cause crops to die, which means people go hungry. The sea level is rising, and will one day swallow up entire countries.

Scientists from all over the world agree that the impacts of climate change will get worse, unless we take action now. Of course, there are things that you can do to reduce your own impact on the environment, like eating less meat. But big changes are required in every country to meet this challenge. Which leads us to your excellent question: what are politicians doing to combat climate change?

Because climate change is caused by the actions of countries, it can only be solved by the cooperation of countries – and that means international law offers the best pathway forward. In 2015, political leaders from all over the world visited Paris, France, to agree on a response to climate change. The result was an international treaty called the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement

In the Paris Agreement, leaders decided that it’s vital to stop the atmosphere from heating more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. To do this, countries need to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, which trap heat and cause this warming effect. So far, the Paris Agreement sounds useful.

But there’s a problem: the Paris Agreement does not offer any direct instructions on what countries have to do to reduce their CO₂ emissions. Countries do not have to meet specific targets to lower their emissions. Instead, the Paris Agreement asks that countries set their own targets, called “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs, for short).

NDCs offer the best picture of what each country’s politicians are prepared to do in order to tackle climate change. So lets take a look at what some countries have promised to do in their NDCs.

Falling short

In its NDCs, Chile has committed to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below what they were in 2007. But a much stronger target would have been to reduce emissions by 30% against 1990 levels. Between 1990 and 2016, Chile’s emissions increased by 115%, which shows the country has a poor history of tackling climate change.

Australia is one of the richest countries on the planet. It has said it will try to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels. But this commitment is not very ambitious for a country with the wealth of Australia. And with all the sunshine it gets, the government could be investing much more in solar energy.

Will Politicians Take Action And Try To Save The Planet From Climate Change? More of this, please. Shutterstock.

Brazil is home to much of the Amazon Rainforest. In its NDCs, it had promised to restore more than 12m hectares of forest, which is about half the size of the United Kingdom or one third the size of Chile. By protecting the forest, which absorbs CO₂, Brazil could reduce its emissions by 37%.

This does sound good. But the new Brazilian government, elected in 2018, does not intend to honour this commitment. Already, deforestation to make room for crops and cattle grazing has contributed to this year’s devastating fires in the Amazon.

The European Union’s NDCs promise to reduce its emissions by 40%. But because all the different countries aren’t required to share reductions equally, this will see some countries in the EU making big reductions, while others do very little.

These examples show that politicians in these countries are not taking climate change seriously – and they are not alone. Many countries are not doing enough. At the current rate, humanity will continue to heat the Earth to somewhere between 3°C and 5°C degrees, which will cause severe hurricanes, droughts and floods all over the globe.

What can we do?

The lesson here is very simple – climate change must be our number one priority. People who can vote in elections should consider voting for parties that promise strong action on climate change. This usually means looking away from the major political groups: parties with a specific “green” focus will typically be the main ones tackling climate change.

Another option is to support global movements like Extinction Rebellion. By turning up to rallies and showing support for groups like these, you can send a strong message to politicians that you care about the planet and all the life on it. Some young activists have even been involved in bringing legal challenges against governments that continually disregard their climate obligations.

This depends on there being a legal mechanism – such as a right to the environment or a constitutional provision – and people having the ability to access it through the courts, which can be a costly endeavour. Nevertheless, a legal challenge can make politicians understand the extent of the passions running through people.

If we send these messages to politicians, there’s a chance to make them do better and stop climate change, before the worst effects of global warming become a reality.

About The Author

Ash Murphy, PhD Researcher, International Environmental Governance, Keele University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future

by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
1786634295How climate change will affect our political theory—for better and worse. Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading? Available On Amazon

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond
0316409138Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond's books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet. Available On Amazon

Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change

by Kathryn Harrison et al
0262514311Comparative case studies and analyses of the influence of domestic politics on countries' climate change policies and Kyoto ratification decisions. Climate change represents a “tragedy of the commons” on a global scale, requiring the cooperation of nations that do not necessarily put the Earth's well-being above their own national interests. And yet international efforts to address global warming have met with some success; the Kyoto Protocol, in which industrialized countries committed to reducing their collective emissions, took effect in 2005 (although without the participation of the United States). Available On Amazon

 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

POLITICS

A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
image
Climate explained: how the IPCC reaches scientific consensus on climate change
by Rebecca Harris, Senior Lecturer in Climatology, Director, Climate Futures Program, University of Tasmania
When we say there’s a scientific consensus that human-produced greenhouse gases are causing climate change, what does…
Court Takes Industry Bait, Caves to Fossil Fuels
Court Takes Industry Bait, Caves to Fossil Fuels
by Joshua Axelrod
In a disappointing decision, Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled…
G7 Embraces Climate Action to Drive Equitable Recovery
G7 Embraces Climate Action to Drive Equitable Recovery
by Mitchell Bernard
At Biden’s urging, his G7 counterparts raised the bar on collective climate action, pledging to cut their carbon…
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
by Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, Director of Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford
The four-day G7 summit in Cornwall ended with little cause for celebration from anyone worried about climate change.…
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
by Steve Westlake, PhD Candidate, Environmental Leadership, Cardiff University
When UK prime minister Boris Johnson took a one-hour flight to Cornwall for the G7 summit, he was criticised for being…
Nuclear industry’s propaganda war rages on
by Paul Brown
With renewable energy expanding fast, the nuclear industry’s propaganda war still claims it helps to combat climate…
Shell ordered to cut its emissions – why this ruling could affect almost any major company in the world
Shell ordered to cut its emissions – why this ruling could affect almost any major company in the world
by Arthur Petersen, Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy, UCL
The Hague is the seat of government of the Netherlands and also hosts the International Criminal Court. NAPA /…

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.