Научная статья на тему 'Cooperative approaches to global environmental problems'

Cooperative approaches to global environmental problems Текст научной статьи по специальности «Политологические науки»

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Аннотация научной статьи по политологическим наукам, автор научной работы — Khlopov Oleg Anatolyevich

The articles analyses the global environment issues and climate change problems and the efforts that international community have taken up to solve them. For the past decades some very important agreements on dealing with sustainable development were reached under the leading work of the Unites Nations, but there are still some disagreement on the methods of solving and protecting our global ecosystems and shared resources. Today the protection of global environment has turned out to be an impossible task for closes cooperation. The author argue that the f better way to integrate regional and transnational initiatives to address environmental problems from the local to the global level.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Cooperative approaches to global environmental problems»


Khlopov O.A. Cooperative Approaches to Global Environmental


Khlopov Oleg Anatolyevich

PhD, Political Science, Associate Professor, Department of American Studies Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow)

Abstract. The articles analyses the global environment issues and climate change problems and the efforts that international community have taken up to solve them. For the past decades some very important agreements on dealing with sustainable development were reached under the leading work of the Unites Nations, but there are still some disagreement on the methods of solving and protecting our global ecosystems and shared resources. Today the protection of global environment has turned out to be an impossible task for closes cooperation. The author argue that the f better way to integrate regional and transnational initiatives to address environmental problems from the local to the global level.

Keywords: global environment, climate change, sustainable development, Earth summit, cooperation, USA.

Рецензент: Дудкина Ольга Владимировна, кандидат социологических наук, доцент. Донской государственный технический университет (ДГТУ), г. Ростов-на-Дону, Факультет «Сервис и туризм», кафедра

«Сервис, туризм и индустрия гостеприимства»


The population of our planet today is more than 7 billion people, and the ability to ensure that every person is under threat as a result of further population growth, climate change, deforestation, reduction in fisheries, air pollution and lack of fresh water. Contemporary global environmental issues go beyond climate change (or global warming). One element that is often overlooked is the complex relationship between people and their environment, which raises a number of important issues in international relations.

In the period from 1900 to 2000 world population increased four times. This growth, coupled with the drastic climate changes and is compounded by the rapid industrialization and urbanizing, which put pressure on the ability of the planet to support life. We must now recognize that the environment is one of the areas where more remains to be done, especially because joint approaches to environmental protection have been very mixed.

First of all it must be emphasized that climate change is not a new phenomenon, and the idea that the Earth's climate is changing is not inherently controversial. For example, it is widely known that the last ice age ended ten thousand years ago. However, the current controversy is based on differences about the pace, causes and

consequences of climate change. How fast will changes occur? Move if these changes are mainly due to natural phenomena or man-made causes? The impact of these changes within and on the biosphere as a whole?

The answers to these questions are crucial for the development of effective policy in the field of environmental protection and national security. Disagreements about climate change still remain. But now we can see dramatic evidence of climate change - melting ice, the disappearance of snow on mount Kilimanjaro or the expansion of deserts in Africa. Each fact provides ready proof that the climate is changing, although the pace of change is still disputed. However, the prevailing scientific theory predicts that the gradual change of temperature will lead to an increase in surface temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius every ten years [5].

Although these changes happen slowly, they can already be seen in the Arctic and glacial parts of the world. For example, some evidence suggests that all the glaciers in glacier Park in Montana will disappear by 2030. According to the world meteorological Organization, "2016 was the warmest for all history of observations, the temperature of the earth as a whole has increased by 1.1 degree Celsius higher than in pre-industrial period as 0.06 degrees above the previous record level in 2015. Global sea levels continued to rise and Arctic sea-ice extent was much below average during most of the year" [12]

In the United States, there has been controversy about whether there was an unprecedented season of severe hurricanes in 2017, which caused such great damage and loss of life in the States of Texas, Florida and the United States associated with global warming.

International Conferences on Climate Change

It is often difficult to assess whether international cooperative efforts have had any real impact on addressing climate change. One assessment is given at international environmental conferences. These large-scale events bring together representatives of national governments, intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations, scientists and industry to take part in discussions about the state of the environment. What makes these conferences interesting is that their goal is to work out joint efforts to reach agreement and consensus on specific strategies for protecting the environment and solving global problems.

Historically, two environmental issues have attracted the most attention of scientists and politicians -climate change and biodiversity. Both of these problems arose at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which was officially called the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. However, most scholars recall the 1972 Stockholm United Nations Conference on the Environment as the first large-scale environmental conference, which was the starting point for the first global environmental mechanism, the creation of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This conference was also the first in which participants directly linked human health to the environment and a healthy ecosystem.

The second step in global environmental governance was the Brundtland Report in 1987. This report emphasized the need for a new development model because we cannot just use our resources and it is determined that sustainable development consists of three main components: economic, environmental and social [10].

The third step was the 1992 Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit), which recognized two important environmental issues - loss of biodiversity, rapid climate change and the need to respond to these problems. The conference adopted a framework convention on climate change, which states that "climate change is directly or indirectly related to human activities, which changes the composition of the global atmosphere and complements the natural climate variability observed over comparable periods of time" [14].

161 States have signed the declaration on the need of the model of global development that would allow future generations to live within your means. The fact that so many States have reached agreement on the concept of sustainable development became a key contribution of the "Earth Summit" Participation of activists has become the norm in international conferences on environmental issues, starting with the summit in Rio. Non-governmental organization from the very beginning was considered as part of the negotiations, and in them took part more than 2000 representatives of non-governmental organizations.

The fourth step was the Johannesburg world summit on sustainable development 2002. The goal was to establish an intergovernmental, interdisciplinary partnerships. Theoretically, this helps to strengthen the interaction of environmental activists with national governments [1].

The UN conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (also known as "Rio + 20") had established mechanisms for the implementation of commitments on sustainable development. Not the participants also stressed the urgency of specific challenges for development and the need to transition to broader goals of sustainable development. In the outcome document of this conference identified specific regional initiatives for sustainable development [11].

In September 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted the "universal, Comprehensive and transformative agenda in the area of sustainable development for the period to 2030, and 17 sustainable development goals, which must be implemented and achieved in each country from 2016 to 2030 [9].

The Paris Agreement of 2015 was a reflection of the consensus among a number of countries about the need to do something to maintain global warming below two degrees Celsius. The fact that the agreement was reached, was groundbreaking for the world community of climate negotiations. Previous negotiations were marked by disagreement and lack of consensus on a strategy to force countries to reach internationally agreed goals in respect of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide, emitted mainly by burning fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal for energy production, is the main cause of global warming [7].

Nonetheless, the Paris agreement showed that many countries failed to agree on specific goals, objectives and policies necessary to combat global environmental change. Climate change is not the only environmental

problem facing our planet. One of the most neglected issues is water. While the earth is two thirds covered by water, fresh water suitable for drinking and use in agriculture, sometimes heavily disputed by neighboring States in the shortage of a growing population.

Thus, access to water is another problem of great concern. Despite the fact that many other problems remain in the area of climate and environment, it is likely that global water management will be one of the main tasks on the agenda in the near future. But it is very important that countries are able to achieve cooperation to protect the global resources of the planet, which is so essential to life and public goods.

International and National Environmental Policy

Global environmental issues are global in nature. However, international cooperation in this area is difficult to achieve. The example of the USA shows that strong countries allow them to avoid cooperating for various reasons. For many years the United States refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol (the forerunner of the 2015 Paris Agreement), thereby blocking many international efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It is difficult to make countries commit themselves to specific environmental goals or to achieve emission reduction targets (in climate policy) or to set standards for pollution in rivers (for water policy). Each nation has its own national interests and development goals, which may conflict with the policies of other states and that which make cooperation elusive [3].

Some of the most popular international environmental agreements are related to climate change, such as the Kyoto Protocol/ But others, less well-known examples, such as the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice on issues, relating to the environment. are equally important [6].

One of the biggest problems for humans at the individual level on environmental issues is the lack of information. The signatories to the Aarhus Convention have entered into a data exchange agreement, which allows citizens to understand the potential risks they face with regard to the handling and release of chemicals. This information also helps environmental activists monitor industrial enterprises and monitor that they are reducing their pollutant emissions.

Environmental security has recently become an important component that influences US strategic defense and military policies. The United States military noted that climate change is one of the main causes of modern disputes and conflicts. In 2007 Admiral Thomas Joseph Lopez, former US Navy Commander-in-Chief in Europe/Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief of Southern Europe, identified the links between climate change, instability and security issues: "increased poverty, forced migration, increased unemployment. These conditions are ripe for extremists and terrorists".

Lopez is a member of a group of senior retired military men who, in their report on national security and the threat of climate change, explained that the United States should be prepared to respond to natural disasters, epidemics, diseases, and other tragedies related to climate change.

Military experts believe that humanitarian assistance, elimination of consequences of natural disasters, and stability operations will be permanent characteristics of future military operations. This perspective is increasingly reflected in military journals, articles and conferences and in US .military educational institutions.

The Pentagon is now considering a gradual warming and abrupt climate change as important factors leading to economic crises, changing borders and global conflict. In the defense review of 2014 Department of Defense stated that "the pressures caused by climate change, will affect competition for resources, which will place an additional burden on the economy, society and the state around the world. These trends are multipliers threats that will aggravate stressors such as poverty, the deterioration of the environment, political instability and social tension and to create conditions that can facilitate terrorist activity and other forms of violence" [16].

In 2015, the Pentagon specifically requested that each command of the armed forces of the United States have assessed the risks of climate change, the ways in which commanders will be able to integrate measures to reduce these risks in the planning process and the allocation of resources necessary for effective response [8]. Recently in the armed services Committee of the Senate with approval of the Minister of defense in the 2017 General of the U.S. marine corps, retired James N. Mattis said he believes that climate change is a threat to national security, "which affects the stability of States, areas of the world where our troops are today". In addition George. Mattis noted that "the military should consider the effects of climate change, such as open water in the Arctic and drought in the disputed areas of the world that have an impact on the conduct of military operations" [2]

These perspectives of security in relation to climate change generally focus on the harmful effects of climate change on weaker States, which may hinder the achievement of the objectives of the US and the conduct of military operations in certain regions. The country with the traditional boundary disputes can wage war for control of the water or face the instability through mass migration in search of access to food. Climate change could also exacerbate the effects of natural disasters, making international humanitarian and military aid even more necessary.

Despite the fact that states with different abilities and different degrees of technical competence for protection from natural disaster, the number of countries with laws that regulate the protection of the environment has drastically increased [4].

There are also many other problems that distract the government's attention from environmental problems. More regulation in some industries with heavy pollution such as coal and steel may have a negative impact on jobs. The establishment of "green" taxes directly or through electricity tariffs, it also can become a burden to taxpayers and businesses. Thus, sometimes there is a tendency to see environmental regulations as detrimental to economic growth and prosperity. Because of this, these laws may be unpopular at home, which complicates the adoption of relevant laws.

An increasing number of countries in which the human right to a healthy environment enshrined at the constitutional level, can help in creating joint transnational networks to protect global resources and environment.

The starting point should be a common understanding of the need to reduce human impact on national and global ecosystems. The adoption of a paradigm that promotes the human right to a healthy environment can also encourage national governments to actively participate in international environmental agreements.

However, it is important to find a way to coordinate those agreements and this issue raises the question of whether we need a global environmental organization that would perform all these issues. Perhaps nowhere is cooperation more important for our long term prosperity and security than in climate change and global environment.

Towards Global Environmental Organization

Who is responsible for the protection of our global environment? To answer this question, we can see that currently there is a consensus on one particular tool, which can help in achieving the goal of providing global public goods: international environmental agreements. These agreements, often negotiated in conferences, and help to protect nature by requiring States to recognize and respect the human right to a healthy environment. However, the following important question, not least: who is responsible for the implementation of these international environmental agreements? Some argue that in order to force countries to cooperate in the protection of our common environment we need a global intergovernmental organization whose purpose is to coordinate efforts to improve the quality of the environment.

For many years there was a general view that the UN Program on the Evironment was entrusted with the task of protecting our global ecosystems and shared resources. Perhaps this was true in the early stages of its creation after the Stockholm conference of 1972. But today the protection of global environment turned out to be an impossible task for a small agency with a limited budget and is not able to force the state to act in a certain way.

The reality is that, despite growing interest in strengthening international cooperation between countries to protect the global environment, a number of institutions and programs dealing with environmental problems at other levels, increases. Unfortunately, the frequent mention of abrupt climate change, increasing deforestation and increasing pollution levels in the oceans, rivers and lakes suggest that we have yet to solve these complex global environmental problems [13]. And although there is still no consensus on whether the United Nations Program for the Environment should deal with the protection of the global environment or should we have to create a new global environmental organization. Nevertheless, the international community must therefore focus on collective decisions at the international level, not at the state, regional or local level.

To express optimism, we can find at least one example of global cooperation in the field of environmental protection, the Paris climate agreement 2015. It was headed by the Chairman of the Secretariat of the UN framework Convention on climate change Christiana Figures. This is an example of what can be achieved through global cooperation in the field of environmental protection, only one intergovernmental Secretariat. Tribute should be paid to the fact that most of the world could come to an agreement on specific tactics and strategies that need to be

taken by each state to achieve the stated goal of deterrence, raising the earth's temperature below two degrees Celsius. The Secretariat is probably not a global environmental organization we need for now, but he played a key role at a crucial moment.

Today a debate is going on, whether we have a global environmental organization. However, if we want to have any chance of success, it will require the full cooperation of all States. The Paris agreement, built on the example of earlier global conferences and movements, indicates that international cooperation on environmental protection is on the rise. This gives hope for the future, despite the growing political tensions in some countries in connection with the nature of climate agreements.


Unlike other security problems, ecological safety does not differ by levels of development and privileges. Instead, all people, regardless of their nationality, subject to changes in the environment. However, as in many other global security issues, people in developing countries are more vulnerable to environmental changes because they lack the resources for effective problem solving. In addition, they are likely to face the already complex economic and social conditions that may exacerbate climate change or cause of the conflict. This ability is likely to affect the national security interests of States, depending on the importance of the countries and the region.

As practice shows, the solution to the problem of climate change with a global perspective will be difficult to find, as national governments seek either to promote their economic interests and development, thereby increasing the use of natural resources, or to maintain a high level of human standards without compromising economic activity. Given that the possibility of catastrophic climate change is probably gradual political decisions can keep pace with environmental changes. If the Paris Agreement as a whole will be successful from the point of view of reducing carbon emissions, especially for such major powers as China, India and the United States (despite the fact that D. Trump has announced the US withdrawal from the agreement), the consequences of climate change can be prevented.

Growing "green" social movement around the world, including its close connection with the sustainable development program of the UN, will continue to be the primary intergovernmental entity that supports this movement with its numerous agencies and programs.

We need better integrate regional and transnational initiatives with the strategies of internal policies to address environmental problems. This means creating the conditions for flexible model management environment covering different levels from the local to the global. Experience shows that the attempt to find the mechanisms, models, and strategies to ensure cooperation on different government levels, in a wide range of problem areas is problematic and difficult process. Today the Nations of the world could find a common language with respect to certain objectives in the area of environmental protection, including global warming and climate change. It is hoped that if this trend continues, we can continue to live a healthy and happy life on our planet.


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