Monday, November 17, 2014
Climate Change Agreements and Sovereignty Disputes
Moving forward from the events of the 20th century, the United States and China, historical and contemporary adversaries, have came to bilateral agreement on climate change and carbon emission. Despite peripheral political disagreements between the two countries, they were able to find common ground in the environment, and several other economic agreements as well.
While the environmentalists may have cause for celebration, the Ukraine is still in turmoil as the rebel activity continues in the eastern part of the country, supported by the Russian military1 according to NATO. In the proceeding paragraphs, the concepts of environmental sustainability through the recent US-China climate accord and the concept of state sovereignty through the Russian-Ukraine conflict will be examined as well as the justifications for collective violence between Russia and Ukraine.
In an article written for the New York Times, Mark Landler summarizes the recent climate deal reached by the United States and China2. Although summit meetings are often criticized as being glorified photo-ops for world leaders, this environmental agreement has been hailed as a great success for the world environment, with concrete numbers and dates pledged by the United States and China. For the first time, President Xi Jinping of China has pledged that China will stop its emissions from growing by 2030. President Obama in turn, stated that the United States would emit between 26 and 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it was emitting in 2005. This agreement was not done in full at the summit, but has actually been in the process of being worked out for the last nine months. While President Obama was facing political troubles with the United States midterm elections, he sent John Podesta, a senior advisor overseeing climate policy, to Beijing to assist in finalizing a deal with the Chinese government2. China pledged that they would begin a more aggressive switch to clean energy sources like windmills and solar power, and these sources would account of 20 percent of China’s total energy output by 20301. Because China and the United States are the world’s top two polluters, without serious climate cooperation between the two countries few other countries would agree to cuts in their own emissions2. While the leaders of China and the United States are able to come to this agreement, Obama still need congressional ratification. Due to the bi-partisan nature of the United States congress, the climate accord can be unraveled if congress votes against it. China, being a one party system, does not face this issue, and as long as the United States does not go back on the agreement, they will not face strong internal political backlash on the agreement.
Air pollution takes center stage in the agreement between China and the United States as the most obvious issue to be solved by this deal. Kelleher and Klein describe air as the “ultimate common” (Page 117) With a reduction in air pollution, a serious impact can be made in the struggle against the continuation of global warming. China specifically states that they will cut back on the reliance on coal power sources, which currently is making up 67 percent of China’s energy sources3. Burning coal releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air contributing heavily to global warming. While the news of an agreement between president Obama of the United States and China making common cause is reason for celebration, skeptics look to the United State’s congress. Looking back to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol does not inspire confidence in the United States commitment to signed agreements about the environment by their presidents. President Clinton signed the protocol, but congress did not ratify it, and no change was made by the United States. President Obama has signed this agreement too, and now awaits congressional approval,