The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Essay Example

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The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Executive Summary

The report aims at investigating international legal implications of sector-based approach with reference to long-term climate policy. The principal aim of sector-based approach is to engage all the key emitters of greenhouse gases into the environment. The report categorizes sectoral approaches into two major divisions depending on their legal implication. Substance sectoral frameworks focus on the methods of determination of emission levels in relation to international global sectors. Similarly, as defined by the international law, substance sectoral frameworks may be incorporated into the predominant climate change system with the consent of the parties involved. Procedural sectoral frameworks concentrate on actors. Therefore, some procedural sectoral frameworks forecast treaty regimes that involve non-state actors.

Table of Contents

51.0: Introduction

52.0: Global Warming

63.0: Kyoto Protocol

64.0: Negotiating a Universal Legal Framework

75.0: Key Actors

76.0: Sector-Based Approaches

87.0: Substantive Sectoral Models

88.0: Procedural Sectoral Models

98.0: Agreements by Non-State Actors

98.1: International Law

109.0: Challenges

109.1: Credibility

119.2: Lack of the Transparency and Democratic Deficit

119.3: Monitoring and Enforcement of Compliance

1110.0: Recommendations

1211.0: Conclusion

References 13

1.0: Introduction

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), usually referred to as the multilateral environmental agreement is a global treaty signed in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro (Jodoin & In Cordonier 2013, p. 20). The major aim of the Framework is to control the concentration of the greenhouse gas into the environment to a level that would protect climate systems from human interference. The Convention states that, maintaining the greenhouse gas into considerable levels into the atmosphere would only be achieved within a sufficient time frame. Hence, it will provide ample time to the ecosystems to be naturally accustomed to change in climate. Thus, this will guarantee security for food production and facilitate economic development across the world. The UNFCCC was signed by 194 nations implying that climate change is a major change is a major challenge across a host of countries and action need to be taken.

2.0: Global Warming

Global warming is a key concern with reference to science and economic shocks as countries attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The quandary is further made complicated by the perceptible asymmetry between third world countries and the developed nations. While industrialized nations contribute significantly to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the third world nations are the most severely affected by the unfavourable effects. However, in the recent past, emissions from the third world countries are also increasing rapidly and may surpass emissions from industrialized nations in the near future. Hence, the international community has found it challenging in attempt to agree on effective methods to tackle the issue and minimize emissions of greenhouse gases across the globe. Therefore, the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol pursue a regulatory framework that is mostly applied in international law on environmental matters. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol represent a treaty regime instituted by the multilateral convention and that seeks to create universal policy framework (Sands et al 2012, p.70).

3.0: Kyoto Protocol

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol contained the required levels of emissions that industrialized nations were supposed to maintain from 2008 to 2012. As a result of political impediments and the United States withdrawal, the Kyoto Protocol took effect on February 2005 following approval by the Russian Federation. Nonetheless, the US and Australia refusal to approve the instrument implies that the implications of the Kyoto Protocol on emissions from the industrialized nations has been less significant than was expected in 1997. However, in reference to the accumulation of anthropogenic change in climate, there is a need for effective and long-term regime on climate change that will address the issue of green gases emissions from industrialized nations and third world nations. Therefore, in an attempt to meet this goal, innovative methods to determine the optimal green gases emissions need to be considered. In 2005, parties involved in climate change held a convention in Montreal to discuss various ways to redress the future prospects of the regime. Additionally, Parties, as well as observers were welcomed to give their views on the Kyoto Protocol’s review as per the provisions of Article 9 of the international law (Hahnel 2011, p.162).

4.0: Negotiating a Universal Legal Framework

Recently, an international consensus demands that the states need to put into consideration legally-binding laws in relation to climate change that would address greenhouse gases emissions not included by the Ozone Layer protection regime. In order to address the issue, the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) established the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) that was a scientific intergovernmental framework to allow decision makers assess the current research coupled with its policy implications in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

5.0: Key Actors

The key actors for the UNFCC under the Kyoto Protocol include industrialized nations such as Russia, the European Union, Japan and Canada. Equally importantly, the third world countries are also emerging as a potential threat to climate change as the emissions of greenhouse gases continues to increase. However, the aspiration by the most of industrialized countries to involve some of the major third world nations in minimising and restricting emissions has a positive impact on the climate change. Similarly, the Kyoto Protocol review as per the provisions of the article 9 of the international law has been perceived as a positive move towards addressing the issue of climate change. In 2004, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment came up with possible means strengthen the long-term policy on climate. The policy seeks to analyse particular sector-based methods within international legal perspectives (Bothe, & Rehbinder, 2005, p.408).

6.0: Sector-Based Approaches

In the recent past, discussions relating to sector-based approaches with reference to climate policy have been facilitated by the urge to establish an effective regime connected to long-term climate policy. The aim of the policy is to integrate all the key emitters across the world device methods to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases. Hence, most industrialized and developing nations have come up with environmental regulations that are binding to environmental standards with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Aldy et al, 2010, p. 202).

7.0: Substantive Sectoral Models

The aim of the substantive sectoral models is to establish international benchmark for particular industrial sectors. This implies that the models intend to adopt the use of the current technology in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and attain a considerable level of emission that would not adverse effects to the environment. Thus, the international benchmark would seek to address issues concerning carbon leakage (Watson & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2003, p.341).

8.0: Procedural Sectoral Models

The procedural sectoral model concentrates on non-state actors that have interests in the issue of the global climate policy. The dichotomy of the procedural sectoral model is characterized by diversity of ideas from the non-state actors. Some of the non-state actors have proposed that the obligation of the international treaty is to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are considerably reduced through individuals, sub-national entities (cities) or private entities (Bodansky, 2003, p. 44). Consciously, a tax on the international emission should be imposed on particular sectors such as consumers or producers of fossil fuels (Bodansky, 2003, p. 44). Other non-state actors proposed that substantial commitments such as commitments on technology standards should be negotiated through representatives of particular industrial sectors or public-private partnerships (Bodansky, 2003, p. 54). The general theme of the attention shifts from state actors which concentrate on the public international laws to non-State actors. The shift contains fundamental implications of the application of the legal system to determine whether the regime established belongs to the realms of the public international law or to the system of the domestic law.

The procedural models can be subdivided into various categories such as agreements decided between states and agreements decided between the industry sector representatives and States. The agreements reached between states category takes into account the sector based on commitments of the climate change organization which is consist of the Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC. This should be performed by amending the Kyoto protocol discussed by the State representatives after conceptualization of the procedures as outlined in the Kyoto protocol Article 20. Therefore, this category is governed by the principles and rules of the international law. From international law viewpoint, the amendment of the Kyoto protocol would be ideally possible. The other category would have necessitated another legal framework of the implementation of the sectoral commitments, although there are presently no analogous global environmental agreements reached by either among the industry sector representatives or between industry sectors and States (Bodansky, 2003, pp. 44–45).

8.0: Agreements by Non-State Actors

8.1: International Law

The system of the international law emerged from the necessity to outlaw or ban war and prevent belligerence between warring States. There was further legal subjectivity appreciated under the international law by the sovereign States which extend it to the inter-governmental organizations, IGOs, as peaceful forms of cooperation by State further developed. IGO is recognized as non-State entity exhibiting the international law personality different from personality of the States who created it. The inter-governmental organizations comprise of the United Nations, together with it integral agencies such as World Trade Organization, as well as the European Communities. Due to the existence of the international law, only certain Inter-governmental Organizations and States have legal personality and legal subjectivity. Therefore, they have duties and rights under international law, for laying their international claims (Brownlie, 2003, pp. 57–58). An important constituent of the international law is the powers and ability to conclude treaties. Therefore, all sovereign States have this capability.

Equally importantly, the inter-governmental organizations have the capabilities of concluding treaties where such capabilities are conferred by the Member States (Aust, 2000, pp. 54–55). In spite of the current changes of the international structures involved in the making decisions and the increased involvement of the non-governmental organizations, the primary structure of the international law has remained unchanged for quite some years. The only actors that are being recognized under the realm of international law include Inter-governmental Organizations and the sovereign states. Other organizations have no capacity to act as parties in the recent regime (the Kyoto protocol and the UNFCCC) of climate change.

9.0: Challenges

9.1: Credibility

Voluntary agreements on environment are applied in the situations where private actors are motivated by the exclusion of the existing legislation or by binding legislation threats, as encountered by the New Zealand and UK. The credibility of such a binding legislation threat exhibits significance influence on the results of the negotiations and on the obligation scales assumed by the industry or business. The European Community voluntary agreements have failed to set adequate ambitious targets since there was an absence of the industry incentives for negotiating emission reduction efforts. This is because of the inexistence of threat emanating from the command-and-control regulation, whenever these negotiations failed to reach in an amicable pinnacle (Keay-Bright, 2004). Negotiating such agreements at global level are even more challenging and hence the needs for comprehensive consideration of the credibility approach.

9.2: Lack of the Transparency and Democratic Deficit

There was a perceptible gap left in the European Community Law with respect to the legal framework and negotiations for the voluntary agreements at this International Community level that reduces the participation of the Parliament and Council. Therefore, Parliament and NGOs were by-passed in the participation in the negotiations. This challenge may iterate if the same instruments are applied at global level.

9.3: Monitoring and Enforcement of Compliance

The European Community does not have effective and efficient enforcement measures or policies because of their non-binding legislation. Therefore, the agreements reached at European Community context lack sanctions for non-compliance, as well as policies or measures to address the concerns for the free-riders. Additionally, the mechanisms for monitoring the agreements have been discredited for being weak.

10.0: Recommendations

Since Kyoto protocol and UNFCCC are international agreements reached among the Sovereign States, they belong to the realm of the international law. Therefore, the international law should recognize other international organizations (non-State actors) rather than recognizing Inter-government Organizations and Sovereign States as equally competent actors. With such recognition, these entities would have the capability of concluding treaties at international level. Therefore, the involvement of these entities as actors in the global industry sectors would necessitate a new legal framework or design. Involving non-State actors in the international agreements may necessitate national jurisdictions of the individual State. The proficient of the national jurisdiction would be determined by the fundamentals of the private international law or agreed upon by the concerned Parties. The implications of the choice of the actors essentially represent the choice pertinent to the application of the legal system.

11.0: Conclusion

In conclusion, the organization of the international industry sectors is a global industry sector represented by inter-governmental Organizations. Examples of the inter-governmental organizations as established by the United Nations’ members include International Association for Civil Aviation, as well as the IMO (International Maritime Organization). These inter-governmental organizations are one of the sectoral approaches to the global policy on climate described the Kyoto Protocol of the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions by the banker’s fuels of the international marine and aviation. The environmental regulation of the command-and-control has been popular among the industry sectors executing voluntary agreements at the international level, as a result, presence of the global industries incentives to reduce emissions.


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