Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City is no more?

The Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City is no more?
“Bill Clinton’s administration indicated that it would not submit the protocol for ratification in the Senate until developing countries also acted to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.” (A&B, 368) Herein lies one of the major stumbling blocks toward a unified effort to dealing with greenhouse emission standards, as observed in the failed Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009, developing economies also (as Bush did) consider emission reduction targets to be antithetical to their economic interests. Lo, Shu and Hu find in their analysis of industrializing Asian tigers: “This result is consistent with the estimation that the rapid growth of Asian economies might take a toll on the environment.” (282), at the particular juncture that developing countries find themselves, their conception of productivity is largely based on improving the economic lot of its people, and do not necessarily taking the broad environmental welfare (as Lo, Shu and Hu seem to suggest) in their conceptualization of economic growth (279).

Considering the pressing imperative to grow in GDP terms (a rising tide raises all ships), it may not be feasible to take all aspects of environmental protection into account (especially when it comes to global warming, which some would argue was a result of past industrialized nations activities). Why would we hamstring our own development by instituting broad environmental changes, while you developed without such limits? A developing nation would ask. This is yet another attempt by the imperialists to ensure that they remain on top of the world and that no nation threatens their dominance. However, we must as Lo, Shu and Hu do, acknowledge that the development path of the past may not be available to all in the future: “In the long term, growth without environmental protection could lead a country’s industry to be less competitive under rising pressure from environmental requirements from the world trading partners.” (289); this would especially be true from the smaller developing states that may not have the clout of BRIC countries. The Yellow Brick Road is no More.

Environmental policy it would seem is the most amenable to international norming and policy alignment. In no other policy area discussed have there been a more aggressive and concerted effort to draw up international agreements and unified effort. The intersection of local action with international ramifications, leads to this confluence of effort. The actions of China and the US (largest emitters of green house gases and concomitant global warming) are going to impact low lying, low emitting states like the Maldives and Bangladesh more than their own populations (in the long run). This “internationalization” or “exportation” of problems does not have to such an acute extent as in environmental policy and this is why A&B find that: “In all sixe countries, these efforts have been d a primary focus of attempts at environmental policy reform since 1990, with the systemic agenda having been set largely though external influence.” (373)


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