World politics in the context of global warming

July 08, 2019 10:27
Climate change fight requires large-scale international coordination and cooperation, which is missing at the moment. Photo: Reuters

As a borderless challenge, global warming is supposed to be dealt with on the international level through multilateral dialogues and cooperation.

Unfortunately, as the world leaders all have their own different agendas, politics is taking precedence over public interests.

One striking example of how the great powers are using the global warming issue to gain strategic leverage over one another is Washington's stance on emission reduction.

The United States is criticizing China for being the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But when it comes to itself, the US government has continued to ignore international interests in terms of environmental pollution and destruction.

US President Donald Trump has withdrawn his country from the 2015 Paris Agreement in a high-profile manner.

Combating environmental pollution and reducing carbon emissions require cross-border regulations and political coordination.

However, the rise of anti-globalist sentiment across the world has rendered international coordination and cooperation in fighting climate change almost impossible.

Amid the deadlock, some academics such as Professor Geoff Mann from the Simon Fraser University in Canada have suggested that governments around the world consider setting up a “virtual political framework” made up of real economic entities, as well as launch economic and cultural exchange initiatives, in order to enhance coordination and communication on the international level.

However, like many other political theories, the feasibility of Mann’s suggestion is pretty much open to question.

Given this, perhaps the only way to prevent global warming from continuing to accelerate is for the global leaders to draw lessons from the past and set aside their differences in order to make a concerted effort to tackle the pressing issue at this critical moment

Yet, in my view, it is much easier said than done, particularly in an age when leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have all risen to political prominence by riding a tidal wave of populist sentiments.

I believe political tensions among countries over global warming are likely to escalate over the next several decades.

It remains to be seen whether mankind can ride out this crisis successfully.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 1

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Political Review