Global Political and Policy Issues on Climate Change Mitigation

Global Political Economy of Climate Change Mitigation

The efficacy of climate change mitigation requires a global agreement. Actions need to be taken by different nations, such that the level of commitment of a nation will be at least proportional to its level of development and the level of emissions. There is resistance to a comprehensive global approach and global political acceptance has been seen as a major obstacle. In addition, low-income countries are faced with financial constraints given the high cost of clean energy, high-income countries are faced with political and consumers’ unwillingness to pay the high price for clean energy and many developing countries are against any level of commitment that will affect their ability to grow. Moreover, despite agreements by nations to reduce emissions, the high cost of clean energy left nations uninspired by the Kyoto Protocol’s targets.

Bailey and Preston (2014) opined that economic condition, resource endowment, and structure of a country determine management policies. These significantly affect the political acceptance of the country for low-carbon emission while the size and strength of the economy determine the resources available for the development of low-carbon energy as well as the political will to do so. Nations that are endowed with fossil energy will not be willing to carry out actions on low-carbon development because of the revenue accruing to the government. For instance in Russia, 28 per cent of total government revenue comes from fossil energy (Bailey and Preston 2014), while in Nigeria it accounts for about 70 per cent of federal government’s revenue and about 90 per cent of foreign earnings (CBN 2013). Russia, as the fourth world largest GHG emitter, only ratified the Kyoto Protocol in November 2004, and placed a legal limit to gas flaring at 5 per cent from 2012 with implementation under way and estimated to be delayed by two to three years (Korppoo and Vantansever 2012).

Politicians will always pursue policies that they expect to gain or maintain support from political constituencies, thus they acquire more power by doing what the people will like rather than pursue climate change mitigation that will impose additional costs through carbon tax and loss of jobs for those in the carbon sector. Bailey and Preston (2014) further noted that while high-income countries are focusing on jobs, real incomes, and deficits, middle-income countries are focusing on economic development, inequality, and expansion of services, and low-income countries are concerned with poverty reduction, health, and education. The global awareness of climate change is also very low. The lack of information and knowledge about climate change has led to reluctance in the acceptance of the reality in most of the developing countries, Nigeria included. People are undereducated on carbon-pricing, carbon tax, or other tools for the reduction of emission rates. Hence, climate change mitigation only has little global political support.

Thus apart from the problems associated with global frameworks, the domestic political economy in the various countries matters much, since many countries only depend on the domestic support they can muster from their citizens to implement such a global treaty. This is especially so whenever a current administration is seeking re-election. An administration may accept irrational policies that may be contrary to global clean energy policies just to please the citizens and win their votes. Therefore, any discussion on global clean energy transition policies must also consider the national political economy angle in the subject matter (Loschel, Sturm, and Vogt 2010).

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