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History of Climate Change[edit]

Since the late 1800's the surface of the earth has experienced an increase of 0.6°C in global temperatures.[1] The earth historically has experienced periods of large increases in global temperatures. For example, around 2 million B.C the surface temperature of the earth is estimated to have been 5°C warmer than today.[2] While these temperatures increased as a result of the natural warming and cooling of the earth, current increases in global temperatures are attributed to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have increased since the late 19th century do to the industrialization of nations worldwide.[3] Examples of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydro-fluorocarbons.[4] While all of these gases are prominent in the effects of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is considered to be the most important as it counts for "around three-quarters of the human-generated global warming effect. [5]

The levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has increased dramatically since the late 19th century.[6] Until the late 1970's scientist were unsure about how much influence human behavior contributed to the increase in greenhouse gases. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide create difficulty for the earth to dispose of the naturally through the carbon cycle.[7] As a result, carbon dioxide excess levels of carbon dioxide trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and result in global warming.[8] The global warming of the earth's surface creates climate change that affects humans in a variety of ways, including: the melting of polar ice caps, increasing sea levels, droughts, storms, and floods.

Previous Climate Change Action[edit]

The first World Climate Conference was held by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1979 in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference established that "continued expansion of man's activities on earth may cause significant extended regional and even global changes of climate". [9] The WMO created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988 to provide a source of "objective information" on global climate change.[10] Then in 1992, 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) aiming at emission reductions for industrialized nations. The FCCC is a set of principles and does not legally bind a country to specific standards. Primarily, the FCCC seeks to "establish a set of principles, norms, and goals" amoungst nations.[11] In 1997, 159 nations signed the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a carries a legal obligation for nations to uphold specific standards in the reduction of greenhouse gases and emissions. Countries are referred to as "Annex 1 parties" or "non-Annex 1 parties".[12] Annex 1 parties are industrialized nations and non-Annex 1 are developing nations.

Issues with the FCCC and Kyoto Protocol[edit]

The FCCC sought to have nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels in 1990. However, the convention did not specify emission targets or create standards that were legally binding. As a result, of the 154 nations that signed the FCCC only 50 chose to ratify the standards set by the convention. The FCCC failed to include aviation and shipping under the standards set for the reduce to a nation's emissions.[13]

The Kyoto Protocol focuses primarily on the production of greenhouse gases and not the consumption. For example, a nation may import high carbon goods such as steel or aluminum, but still have a relatively low output of greenhouse gases.[14] The Kyoto Protocol places a large amount of pressure on Annex 1 nations to reduce their emissions. Annex 1 nations face sharper goals of emission reduction compared to non-Annex 1 nations. The Kyoto Protocol also establishes carbon emission caps that creates strain on industrialized nations and their ability to produce, and consume, goods.

  1. ^ Von Stein, Jana. "The International Law and Politics of Climate Change". 
  2. ^ Stern, Nicholas. "The Economics of Climate Change". 
  3. ^ {{cite web|title=Global Issues|url=https://www.un.org/en/globalissues/climatechange/
  4. ^ Stern, Nicholas. "The Economics of Climate Change". 
  5. ^ Stern, Nicholas. "The Economics of Climate Change". 
  6. ^ Von Stein, Jana. "The International Law and Politics of Climate Change". 
  7. ^ Stern, Nicholas. "The Economics of Climate Change". 
  8. ^ Stern, Nicholas. "The Economics of Climate Change". 
  9. ^ Von Stein, Jana. "The International Law and Politics of Climate Change". 
  10. ^ {{cite web|title=Global Issues|url=https://www.un.org/en/globalissues/climatechange/
  11. ^ Von Stein, Jana. "The International Law and Politics of Climate Change". 
  12. ^ Von Stein, Jana. "The International Law and Politics of Climate Change". 
  13. ^ Helm, Dieter. "Climate-change policy: why has so little been achieved?". 
  14. ^ Helm, Dieter. "Climate-change policy: why has so little been achieved?".