Table of Contents
The aim of this research paper is to highlight the climate change effects that lead to environmental changes and damages to the earth and human beings. It goes ahead to appreciate ways of minimizing the damages. The climate changes are a response to global energy balance changes. To achieve the above objective, the paper is going to focus on the different dimensions climate change is taking, how different nations are engaged and react to its effects, how climate change is an important issue globally, highlight the responsible communities, individuals and groups and analyzes how different bodies have come up to address this issue including set up laws and treaties.
International bodies and human rights are relevant in setting up obligations targeting to light the multiple constrains facing climate change especially in the developing countries sustainable development. Such bodies like the United Nations and Legal human rights are obliged to ensure that nations act in ways to protect individuals and communities from human rights violation. Now that climate change has adverse impact on human rights, the changes lead to widespread and serous violation of the human rights calling for the intervention of the world governing bodies. One particular cooperation is the inequities between developing and developed countries with their respective citizens being addressed according to affirmative actions legal principles. The frameworks adopted by unions and the international bodies are demonstrated in the paper indicating how this climate change issue is important to the human beings and planet earth.
Historical, Economic, Social and Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change
There are several historical, social, economic and cultural issues that are explicitly recognized as being relevance in relation to climate change. The social dimension of climate change is taking an equity consideration when it comes to developing countries. Such countries are now actively involved in international decision making processes on climate change. The developing countries are also involved in building their capacity in the making and implementation of collective decisions and incorporating both equity and efficiency in mitigation analysis and adaptation measures. Economically, its dimensions in relation to climate change are focused on measuring the economic cost and mitigation policies. This takes into consideration the intertemporal and ethics equity issues. Considering climatic changes in relation to adaption policies and mitigation, the developing countries have to develop the capacity to implement adaption polices depending not just on natural and man made capital but on institutions also (Deep Solar Minimum, 2009.p 67)
Their responses to the changes in climate have to rely on both policies and capacities and the interrelation between the two. Future actions in relation to climate changes include; initiating action among developing countries and promoting cost efficient means of reducing emissions by strengthening the trading schemes. This can be easily achieved by the inclusion of technological cooperation by the international communities to improve the effectiveness of investments in areas such as reducing deforestation which is a major contributor of global emissions. Mitigation actions are focused on global popularity growth and activism on climate change through government actions, individual lifestyles, international action and social responsibility of the private sector.
Basing on history, climate change cannot be considered as being a new phenomenon. Many billion years ago, the earth experienced freezing spells and hot flashes cycles. The following million years after that, the once frozen earth had its temperatures rise giving rise plants and animal existence. The peaceful existence is now facing extinction with increased emissions of substances like carbon dioxide and methane gas in the environment. Increased in temperature has resulted to once polar region to warm up and have the ice cover melt away. Such past trends are a clear indication that the change in climate will never take a miraculous stop but assume different unpredictable dimensions depending on the human inhabitation interference.
Ways in Which Australia and US are Engaged and Affected by Climate Change
The natural environment has been found to affect every aspect of the Australian economy and its citizen’s daily lives. For example, higher temperatures as well as increasing storms intensity have led to insurance being more expensive, increased electricity costs and energy demands as a result of increased air conditioners demands. The health costs have also increased because of wide spread water borne and tropical diseases in the south. Major sectors in the Australian economy have also been affected including tourism, farming and employment meaning that the once national sources of resources and revenue are affected. The country’s agriculture sector stands the greatest threat posed by the more turbulent and hotter climate. Australia is currently facing stronger storms, longer droughts, higher temperatures, and a faster stored water evaporation (Sorokhtim, 2007. P 234)
The climate changes have resulted in higher cost of fresh food staffs affecting the low income and vulnerable communities. This condition has led to increased concerns of low income people being unable to afford food that is healthy. Household transport costs have also been on the rise as climate changes have caused some restrictions in the transport sector. To prevent damage from car emissions, the Australians are now expected to drive for shorter distances and less often especially those with private vehicles. The above impacts have resulted to an increased cost of living calling for the government to step in and salvage its citizens.
The Australian government has engaged itself in tackling hazardous climate changes by reducing the countries greenhouse emissions, taking part in shaping for a global solution and adopting a climate change strategy that its citizens cannot avoid. It has achieved this by moving to become a cleaner economy that is competitive, sustainable and in a position to withstand climate change challenges. Australia is now well positioned in thriving within a world that is carbon constrained. The Government has taken the initiative of ratifying the Kyoto protocol while still committed in meeting its Kyoto targeting of greenhouse emissions limitation to approximately 108 percent (Trenberth, K, 2009. P 321)
The nation is also committed to checking on its emissions more than sixty percent come 2050. This target was accompanied by the establishment of an emissions trading scheme in the year twenty ten so as to meet the target. In addition, the Government has established a legislation governing a renewable energy target requiring more than 20 percent of the nation’s electricity to be tapped from renewable resources (Michaelowa, 2009, p 45). The Australian government has also associated itself with international communities such as the United Nations to help in the development of global climate change future. Thus Australia as a nation is committed to taking a constructive and active role in shaping a truly global solution on climate change.
The United States Federal Government has come up with incentives and voluntary programs aimed at reducing emissions and promoting climate science and technology. In addition, the strategy includes the know-how from different federal agencies and incorporates the private sector power. The EPA has also come out strongly in helping the United States government in her reduction efforts on greenhouse gas emissions as well as its intensity. The EPA has come up with both short and long term plans which encourage various stakeholders to voluntary take part in the emissions reduction initiatives. Such initiatives include the Energy Star, Methane Voluntary Program and Climate Leaders. These programs target consumers, large corporations, the industrial sector, commercial and industrial buildings. Energy related activities in the United States account for more than 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions generated by humans (Melezhik, V, 2006.p 234) Carbon dioxide forms the most of these emissions coming from burning fossil fuels. A better portion of the emissions related to energy are as a result of large stationeries like power plants and a similar portion from the transportation.
Industrial processes such as the production of steel, aluminum and cement, waste management, agriculture and forestry are other leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The Government also established emissions inventories at state, federal and local levels so as to be better placed in tracking the sources of the greenhouse emissions from various economy locations such as electricity production, transportation, forestry and industries. The climate change has adverse effects on plants, animals and people. Scientists in the United States argue that the nations and most parts of the world will continue to warm up though the rates of warming will vary from place to place. They have also come up with predictions on evaporation and precipitation increasing in various locations in the country. Alaska forms one of the regions in United States facing significant changes in climate and the changes are mostly caused by human behavior. Human health is affected both directly and indirectly by the changes in climate especially during the extreme periods of cold and heat, storms and diseases that are climate sensitive such as smog episodes and malaria.
Global Importance of Climate Change
Despite the many technological developments such as genetically modified organisms, irrigation systems and improved varieties, climate still remains the most important factor in agricultural production. Agricultural trades have in the recent years grown and have remained the main source of significant amount of food up to the national levels forming some countries major exports. Thus a positive climate change has significant effects on international aspects of security and trade in relation to food supply. Agricultural production is mostly affected by the place and severity of climate change. Gradual changes in climate don’t have significant impact on agriculture as there is always enough biota adjustment time. However, rapid climate change could have harmful effects on agriculture especially in countries suffering from poor climate and soil conditions as there is minimal time for optimum adaption and natural selection (Hulme, 2009.p 63)
Forests are a key phenomenon in the alleviation of poverty globally. However, the same forests are dynamic, and their accelerating changes due to anthropogenic activities. Changes in climate can alter the forests nature for example in mountainous regions leaving the inhabitants exposed thus increasing the risks from the natural hazards. This will also affect the plantation viability of the forests in dry areas combating desertification. Favorable climatic changes have led to increased forests productivity. Changes in sea level are seen to have destabilizing impact on the coastal forests especially the mangroves forests thus reducing coastal protection. Air pollution is another climatic change that has destabilized most of the forests. The changes in climate though uncertain, need great biophysical knowledge integration in the existing socio-economic information in relation to forest dependent climate. Temperature changes impact global climate change as the weather has been observed to be getting warmer and warmer. The effect of such changes are likely warm up west Antarctic regions leading to ice from these areas to float down into oceans thus leading to increase in sea levels. The melting of ice has been the main reason for the significant increase in sea levels in areas such as Himalayas, Greenland cap and Andes.
Communities or countries actively responsible for climate change
Developing countries are facing the greatest obligation and concerns on the responsibilities to address changes in climate. The main challenge facing this obligation is equity principle and respective differentiated responsibilities. The developing countries are the mostly affected by climate changes thus have to come up with specific obligation so as to mitigate their emissions so as to regulate the global emission in the long run. This involves technological and financial transfers to such countries to ensure sustainability and adaptation development. The developing countries are the most affected by climatic changes as there exists a persistent compliance gap in such countries. The countries lack the resources to address the existing gaps as their legal mechanisms are not effective enough. The developing countries also fail to comply with the obligation of international bodies such as UNFCCC in controlling climate change (Hanlon, 2005.p 123) These developing countries can change the situation on the ground by abiding with the internationals tribunals that are meant to address such failures. Such tribunals can step in to clarify the affected countries legal obligations in relation to climate change legislation. The end result will be adequate and timely climate change action that are more viable to ecological and economic inequalities between developing and developed countries to result in a further increase.
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Some of the systematic action plans and responses by a number of representative bodies
The UNFCCC and the human rights laws have come out strongly to provide mutually reinforcing legal obligations. The legal obligations form the basis of sufficient legal state responsibility towards actions that result in adverse climate change. These international human rights obligations and laws relate directly to sustainable development. There also exists a universal treaty that legally binds and governs international actions towards climate change. The conventions of the UN Framework have been the major protocol aimed towards climate change. The UNFCCC is made up of principles which ensure a balance among the development needs in developing countries with the obligation and responsibilities which the countries have to address towards climate change. The Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee is another body that was committed in measuring and setting timelines and objectives on the reduction of greenhouse gas by developed countries ( Deffenbaugh, 2009. P 334)
The body offered financial mechanism towards climate actions to help in technological transfer to developing nations from developed ones helping them meet changes in climate. All the above mentioned bodies negotiated for an apparent increase in the need to attain international cooperation that would adopt effective actions to mitigate and accommodate the climatic change effects. The international human rights came up with laws that stood out to be significant to nations facing climate changes. The law provided legal obligations that are relevant forming basis of countries responsibility as they had been defined by the consensus and treaties of the involved nations as obligations. A violation of any of the obligation resulted to specific legal consequences. Such laws offer support to the UNFCCC framework as they provide legal obligations that are parallel. The laws together with the general public international law principles provide a cooperation duty between countries. The most significant role of the human rights law is its role in providing obligation interpretation forums and go ahead to apply them in specific issues (Walker, 2009,.p 231)
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Summary and Conclusions
Climate changes have proved to undermine human rights protected internationally especially in developing countries. The reduction of the rapid and steep emission by developed nations is a necessary action in the years to come. In order to prevent further effects of climate change, the international cooperation are expected to be intensive in ensuring that the developing nations are in a position to adapt and mitigate to climate change. The climate change threats are likely to intensify if no measures are put in place like strengthening and increasing compliance of international bodies such as the United Nations and the UNFCCC framework. Legal human rights laws are also obligated to reinforcing efforts towards emission reduction in both developing and developed states. The laws are out to provide adequate and efficient technological and finance transfers with an aim of ensuring that every state is guaranteed minimum protection against harmful climate changes.