The COP21 Negotiations: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Caytas, Joanna Diane

COP21, although a gesture of good will and an acknowledgment by governments of the global scale of the environmental problem, presented nary a solution or even a workable plan to address the issue. In fact, the Paris Agreement constituted a significant step back from the perhaps overly ambitious – or simply too costly – goals of the Kyoto Protocol. A superior strategic plan for collective action led by Europe and China would be to set more concrete goals that are closer to home. For example, developing countries could be persuaded more easily to reduce their pollution levels rather than switch away from cheap energy sources. Improving industrial infrastructure without renouncing fossil fuel energy was how developed nations achieved their own economic power. Once developing countries are able to feed and provide jobs to growing populations, they can focus more decisively on environmental protection, clean water, and the elimination of toxic waste. Because these issues have an immediate impact on the electorate – few things get as much voter attention as reports of babies sickened by polluted water – they can gather more political support to introduce costly remedial or preventative measures. Environmentalist strategies in the abstract, focused on justified but distant issues, do not advance practical results, since sinking exotic vacation islands like the Maldives are not what will convince elected officials worldwide to expend real political capital.


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Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth Institute
Published Here
November 12, 2018