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Global Affairs

Global Affairs

The Rio 20 and the Copenhagen climate change meeting introduced crucial discussions in the world’s efforts to harness the climate change. The meetings led to the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord among other international environmental law instruments. During the debates, it emerged that most industrialized nations were responsible for the climate shift as the emissions from the industries lead to the destruction of the ozone layer. China is one of the countries with the highest rates of contamination in the world, though it has ratified the Kyoto protocol, which presents a very complicated case in the fight for a better environment. The paper will, therefore, show the outcome of the Copenhagen and the Rio 20 climate change meetings with a view of uncovering the main issues during the meeting and further look at the climate change issues around the world.

The Main Issues during the Rio 20 Meeting

The Rio 20 meeting took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Brand, 2012). A total of 172 countries participated in the conference organized by the United Nations. The event brought together 172 countries across the world, with 116 countries presenting their heads of state during the meeting (Brand, 2012). The summit culminated into the passing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Rio Declaration (Brand, 2012). Among the key issues that dominated the meeting, however, there was the need to find a solution to the worsening global environment and how science, economics, and the environment relate to one another from a political point of view (Brand, 2012). At the end of the Rio conference, about 130 countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Climate Change Convention (Brand, 2012). An action plan known as the Agenda 21 plan of action was also adopted in the course of the meeting to map a way forward in an attempt to save the planet from environmental degradation.

The Climate Change Convention Acquired during the meeting stated that the developed countries were to pave the way forward in eradicating environmental degradation to avoid the effects (Brand, 2012). It was also determined during the debates that any measures to be used in combatting the environmental degradation must be cost effective in nature. The advanced countries were further advised to ensure that technology transfer to the developing countries was enhanced to facilitate the third world countries in fighting the environmental menace (Brand, 2012. The convention further recognized the essence of indigenous communities in environmental protection and all states were urged to ensure that any acts of environmental degradation don’t take place on their land (Brand, 2012).

The Main Issues During the Copenhagen Climate Change Meeting

The summit which was held in the year 2009 to discuss the progress in the fight against environmental degradation reached many resolutions. First, nations agreed that there was a need to enforce the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in controlling climate change. It further emerged that to ensure proper climatic conditions, an increment of global temperatures beyond 2 degreesCelsius should be avoided (Rogelj et al., 2010). The reduction in the levels of gas emissions into the atmosphere, especially the greenhouse gas emissions, also appeared on top of the agenda during the summit. In support of the developing countries agenda to end environmental degradation, the developed countries were further urged to provide the necessary financial, technological and other resources to the developing countries to assist them to fight climate change (Rogelj et al., 2010). They were also encouraged to come up with the climate change mitigation measure to implement by the year 2020 in a bid to reduce the carbon emissions into the atmosphere (Rogelj et al., 2010). To attain this, the third-world countries were urged to report to the United Nations any mitigations done by the developed countries in a span of every two years. The reduction of gas emissions into the forests as a result of greenhouse effects or deforestation was also key on the list of discussion topics. At the end of the summit, the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund was set up to assist in mitigating the environmental degradation in the developing countries (Rogelj et al., 2010).

Problems Occasioned by the Industrialized Nations and the Global Economy

The conflict between the developed and the developing states over who bears the responsibility of global environmental degradation dominated both the Copenhagen summit in 2009 and the Rio Conference of 1992 (Rogelj et al., 2010). It, however, turned out that the developed countries were found responsible to a large extent for today’s climate change. The industrialized countries are accused of burning fossil fuels in a very discriminative manner for many-years which have now culminated in the climate change witnessed today. The poor nations further allege that the developed countries further got industrialized through exploiting and polluting poor countries. The industrialized countries are, therefore, to blame for climate shifts today. In mitigating the climate changes, however, the developed countries were called upon to the Copenhagen meeting in the year 2009 to provide financial and technological assistance to the developing countries (Rogelj et al., 2010). Most developed states, though, have defaulted in providing the aid, creating an international issue.

The Case of China

The position taken by China in environmental protection is a very controversial one. First, the China is a signatory to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, yet it’s exempted from the list of countries expected to limit the greenhouse (Peters, Weber, Guan, & Hubacek, 2007). The situation is very ironical because China is one of the leading environmental polluters in the world. In the year 2009 for example, China was ranked the top most emitter of the fossil fuel gasses in the world followed by the United States of America with a percentage of 25.4 percent (Peters et al., 2007). The Statistics indicate that China’s economic activity can be associated with one-quarter of the world’s Carbon dioxide emission into the environment. China is also ranked high regarding greenhouse gas emissions (Peters et al., 2007). In 2005, for example, China topped the list with a pollution rate of 16 percennt. In general, however, as at the year 2015, the United States of America remains the world’s number one environmental polluter followed closely by China. As at the year 2014 however, China exceeded the European Union’s gas emissions per capita (Peters et al., 2007).

Environmental Issues in Brazil and the Amazon Region

One of the major environmental issues in Brazil is deforestation. Brazil being the home of one of the largest rainforests, the Amazon forest, therefore, is facing an enormous threat to its species. The Amazon forest which has so far acquired the title ‘lung of the world’ due to heavy oxygen production suffers a lot due to encroachment by people for Agricultural purposes, cutting down trees for timber and other developmental matters (Malhi et al., 2008). Due to the deforestation, therefore, Brazil continues to experience substantial amount of Acid rain, which is harmful to both human beings, crops, and animals. The rain causes changes in the soil PH leading to very low agricultural yields. Significant air pollution is also witnessed in Brazil dues to the high rate of industrialization. So far, however, Brazil which is a signatory to the Kyoto protocol together with the United States of America have come up with a joint initiative to fight climate change. At the end of the Copenhagen summit, Brazil resolved to reduce its emissions by thirty-seven percent come the year 2035 (Malhi et al., 2008).

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The Case of Developing Countries

During the Copenhagen and the Rio conference summits, it was determined that the Developed countries were responsible for the climate change they undergo due to the developed countries burning of fossil fuels. It also emerged that the developing countries are the hardest hit by the changing climatic conditions due to poor infrastructure to handle some disasters such as droughts and floods. Since the developed countries are responsible for the developing countries predicaments, they are expected to give financial assistance to the poor countries as a way of mitigation. The third-world states, especially African countries face a lot of pollution mainly resulting from the industries (Brand, 2012). The pollution has had very devastating effects on these populations as it leads to illnesses and death. The situation is very tricky, taking into account the fact that halting pollution levels may lead to stagnation of economic development in these countries. Again, the poor countries rely majorly on natural resource exploitation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, climate change affects every nation in the world, but the poor ones are the largest sufferers. Since the developed countries, however, used the natural explorations and burning fossil fuels to attain development, the enforcement of international environmental law instruments in poor countries may inhibit development. The Copenhagen and Rio conferences, tried to find political solutions to the problem by urging developed states to provide financial aids and mitigation initiatives to curb environmental degradation. Countries such as China and Brazil remain top on the environmental pollution list and therefore calling for very urgent measures to restore a clean and healthy environment.

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