Posted: November 28th, 2013
Governments’ Responsibility to Global Temperatures
The Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Climate Council are some of the many establishments that many countries, both in the developed and the developing countries, have been signatories to the agreements. The main aim of these agreements by the world governments is to ensure that the world’s temperatures do not increase by more than two degrees Celsius by the year 2050 (Cirman, et al. 29). Despite the governments’ efforts to curb this situation, which has threatened life in the universe, the main debate lies on whether these agreements are as effective as anticipated. The bigger question is whether the governments are adhering to these agreements. With the increase in industrial activities as countries try to improve their economies, the recession, and other factors that influence the quantity of carbon emissions, governments are not fulfilling their ethical and business responsibilities when proposing to act collectively to limit the rise in the global temperatures to two degrees Celsius by the year 2050.
Implications of Carbon Emission Reduction
Company or Corporation
Corporations or companies are the biggest carbon emitters in this carbon emission cycle. According to the Global Carbon Project, a 5.9% carbon emission rise was noted in the year 2010 was had the corporations as the majority contributors (“Global Warming” 2011). Most of these companies/corporations are owned by the governments. During the recession, period, it was estimated that the global emissions had decreased. The European emissions decreased by 3% in the year 2008 (Bowen & Nicola 12). However, it is estimated that the Kyoto Protocol only played a forty percent role in this reduction. Thirty percent of the reduction was made possible by the recession while the remaining percentage was brought by the switch from coal to natural gases (Bowen and Nicola 13).
China, India and the United States are the highest ranking in greenhouse gas emissions. The United States has the Clean Air Act, which dictates on the assurance of clean air. In order to ensure that there are policies put in place in order to reduce the emissions, the government allows trading of permits and licenses that give the limit of gasses to be emitted by a given entity (Treves 15). This mostly applies to corporations/companies. Entities exceeding their limit are allowed to purchase the allowances of the entities that have not exhausted their limit.
This is a major step in adhering to the agreements made. However, governments are not taking any visible actions on the companies that exceed their limits without purchasing the extra allowance. This governments’ ignorance is evident with the increase of greenhouse gas emissions having the companies contribute to the greater percentage. Additionally, there has been an increase in economic activities using coal. In a country like China, the companies are still using coal under the government’s watch. Although the Chinese government proclaims that it had reduced in their use of coal in a report given in the year 2009, this reduction has not reached the required part. Organizations focusing on the global warming report that the Chinese government is not putting the required pressure to reduce the use of coal fuel on the companies in question.
As earlier noted, a percentage of the emission decrease noted is due to the switch made from using coal to using natural gases. Unfortunately, most companies have switched to fossil-based natural fuel. Fossils emit carbon, which is the key component contributing to global warming. The targets for greenhouse gas emission have only been met by a few countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France, amongst a few others (Treves 20). Approximately forty countries have been able to reduce their reduction by five percent while the majority of the remaining countries increased their emissions by ten percent. Although there is a decrease noted due to the agreements set, the governments are not doing enough to ensure that the policies set are followed to the maximum.
The commonly known Mc-Cain Lieberman or the Climate Stewardship Act of 2005 was estimated to bring forth approximately 800,000 job opportunities in the United States by the year 2025. According to the study, 510,000 job opportunities would be established by the year 2015. The number would have risen to 602,000 by the year 2020 and a toll of 801,000 would be recognized by the year 2025 (Treves 35). This act was put in place in order act on the agreements set in the Kyoto Protocol.
If the needed follow up was done, most job opportunities would be in the medical service industry, retail and wholesale and the construction industries as there would be an increase in energy efficiency. It was also identified that most of the employment opportunities would be in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Ohio, New York, Nevada, Minnesota and Michigan (Trves 36).
Although this is seen as though it will only benefit the United States, employees in the other countries can also benefit if the government makes sure that the policies and laws to ensure the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are put in place as agreed in the Kyoto Protocol amongst other agreements. By the year 2012, the promised jobs have not been very evident especially due to the recession that affected most economies. Additionally, the United States government has not been very effective in ensuring that the policies put in place in line with the act have been greatly followed.
The consumers are the most affected on the business hierarchy in relation to the greenhouse gas emissions. Although the government is more focused on the corporations/companies, the consumers have their own role to play. If all the other factors were assumed or held constant, companies would not make products if the consumers failed to buy them. On the other hand, the consumers buy products due to existing needs. However, consumers have choices most of the time. For example, a consumer has choice of using electricity over using charcoal fuel (Cirman et al.33).
If consumers chose to buy products that have been manufactured using no or less greenhouse gas emission over the others, then they would play a major role in encouraging the companies to emit less if no greenhouse gas. Additionally, governments can create consumer awareness over the choices they have. For example, the government can educate the consumer on which products emitting more greenhouse gas during their manufacturing. The consumers have a significant role to play in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as the corporations are. The governments need to create more awareness to the consumers.
The shareholders of any company/corporation are as part of the business as the managers and the employees in that business. They should engage in the implementation and follow-up of the policies put in place to curb the greenhouse gas emissions. Although governments are more focused on a company’s stakeholders, the shareholders have their role to play. They can enquire for the company’s statistics on the emissions during a particular period when they attend the annual meetings. They can also inquire for bi-annual or quarterly reports on the effectiveness of the policies pit in place. The governments rarely ask for the shareholders’ help in the control of the company/corporations, emission regulation, but they should do so as the process will be more effective.
The Society is the most affected by all the activities related to greenhouse gas emissions and regulation. The society inhales the gases and experiences all the consequences of environmental pollution. However, the society has its own role to play if the government could focus on them more that it is focusing on them. Individuals can take part in activities that will decrease the emissions. For example, a family can choose to use one car instead of using the two, three or four of them. A society can decide to use fuels that do not emit carbon or any other harmful gases.
Non-governmental organizations are greatly involved in the societal awareness of ways they can discourage the corporations from emitting high levels of gases. These organizations also educate the society on ways of reducing the carbon emission (Cirman et al. 50). However, the government has not put much focus on the society. Educating the society on the type of cars and the best fuel to use, making the society aware about the companies that are not concerned about the environment, are good ways of adhering to these agreements (Bowen & Nicola 7).
The government has an environmental ethical responsible towards its citizens. A government’s concern is not assessed by its promises but rather the concern is assessed by the results of the government’s actions. The governments should see that the policies put in place are followed and the entities failing to follow these policies are reprimanded in one way or another. Allowing companies to reap large profits as the expense of the environment is not ethical at all. Although most of these activities boost most of the countries’ economies, they are harmful to the environment in the end.
If governments were ethically responsible for the environment as they are supposed to be, the noted increased percentages in the greenhouse gas emissions even after the signing of the agreements should not be present. If countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which have powerful economies have reached the targeted emission level, other governments have a responsibility of reaching their targets. They owe it to the society.
Bowen, Alex & Nicola Ranger. Mitigating Climate Change through Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Science and Economics of future Paths for Global Annual Emissions. Policy Brief, December 2009: 1-45.
Cirman, Andreja, Polona Domadenik, Matjaž Koman, and Tjaša Redek. “The Kyoto Protocol in a Global Perspective.” Economic and Business Review. 11.1 (2009): 29-54. Print.
“Global Warming and Climate Change” (2011). New York Times, Dec 21. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html
Treves, Tullio. Non-compliance Procedures and Mechanisms and the Effectiveness of International Environmental Agreements. The Hague, Netherlands: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2009. Print.
 This is despite the recession experienced during this period as indicated by the Global Carbon Project in the New York Times article.
 Bowen and Nicola state that the European countries are putting more effort on reducing these emissions as compared to the Asian countries such as China and India or the United States (12-15)
 These statistics were given by economists from Redefining Progress. This is a national research group.
 On this page, the authors give an analysis on how the Kyoto Protocol focuses on Corporations, consumers, shareholders and the whole society.
 Cirman et al. focuses on the role of non-governmental organization on page 50-51.
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