It may be the greatest coincidence that the United Nations designated year for small island developing states (SIDS) has seen a great number of conferences on climate change. SIDS are most susceptible to the effects of climate change as many islands lie at sea level. This would mean that with every centimetre rise of sea level we are looking at a threat to the inhabitants and infrastructure of the islands. After the limitations of the Kyoto Protocol we are looking forward for a legally binding agreement on climate change. This essay will assess whether an agreement in Paris will be different from Kyoto.
Climate change is an issue that affects the whole world but whilst some will see its effect now others won’t see it for some decades to come. Human beings by our very nature react to fire rather than the threat of fire. Therefore SIDS who see fire are eager to come to an arrangement and others not as much. I can understand the short term rationale of many countries who are unlikely to want to comply to a strenuous climate change agreement. First we have the developed countries where carbon dioxide emissions are high due to the density of industries. Second, growing economies such as China whereby development is fast and therefore industries continue to produce carbon dioxide. Third are the less developed countries which are eager to develop and cannot understand why they cannot industrialise in the same model that made other countries wealthy. For them it almost feels like a ploy that we now expect them to develop using clean energy which are environmentally friendly. This goes when poverty eradication and deforestation is placed side by side. From a short term outlook persons cannot help but choose economic development over environment preservation.
However in the long term there is really no point to being developed and extinct. This is about saving our home, the Earth. As is often said we do not have a Plan B so where will we go with our riches once we have destroyed the Earth? It all seems so far away that the need for action does not seem urgent but we must always think of the children. We cannot leave the Earth is a worse state than whence ẃe came. It would be a failure for generations. So hungry children, refugees, child soldiers and poor children are all going to be effects of climate change. If we think there is conflict now, there is worse to come. We must unite to combat climate change before it divides us. It is therefore even an issue for the Security Council which has the mandate to preserve peace in the world.
So it appears the countries greatly affected by climate change do not want a repeat of Copenhagen so meetings in Bonn, the Seychelles, and Lima all attempt to create the path to a legally binding agreement in Paris 2015. However as a lawyer I cannot help to ask what will be the damages for a breach of contract? What consequences will there be if there is a breach of this agreement? I fear the answer is: the countries will not look reputable in the international community. That simply is not sufficient.
The place we call home deserves more than that. If you surpass your quota for carbon emissions industries should be shut down. If you take loans to invest in businesses that will increase carbon dioxide emissions then the interest rates will be higher. Fines and corporate imprisonment. If the individual can be fined for littering the corporation can be fined for destroying the Earth. This may seem unrealistic but let us really think about what is at stake here. The United Nations has a duty to the majority member states who are being affected by climate change to save the Earth.