Environmental Negotiations

Negotiations among nations have always represented an effective way to the achievement of the agreement on the most important issues. As a result, binding agreements and international legislation have become the effective tools for the peaceful resolving of the disputes, and achieving of the mutual aims.

At the same time, there are numerous factors that contribute to the complication of the negotiation process. They include the lack of trust within the negotiating parties, unwillingness to make commitments in cases where a rival nation can do something better, economic and political losses related with the signing of the international treaties, and, finally, a great number of states involved in the environmental negotiations. The most important determinants that have a positive impact on the outcomes of global environmental consensus are as follows: the compliance of strategies that address climate change problems and provide adherence of the parties to the international commitments, effective operation of key institutions and providing support to the environmental initiatives, and willingness of the parties to switch from commitments to implementation of the undertaken agreements.

The influence of the factors that are considered important in shaping the outcomes of global environmental negotiations can be clearly observed within the certain issue areas, such as biodiversity, climate change, and ozone policy. First, there are concerns within the developing nations that the developed states will use the international commitments to impose burdens on them. For example, developing countries have already abandoned the concept of common heritage of mankind and supported the principles of national sovereignty over natural resources in the sphere of biodiversity preservation.


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In addition, the lack of trust can exist within a particular country. Such phenomenon is known as a conflict between the South and the North.

Unwillingness to take commitments can be observed during the negotiations on the preserving of the Earth’s ozone layer. In January 1985, the USA, Canada, and European Countries failed to achieve a multilateral agreement on the limitation of chlorofluorocarbons emissions. The United States and member states of the European Union, which dominated the market for chlorofluorocarbons, denied the possibility to reduce the emission of the pollutants. In particular, the unwillingness of the countries was associated with the rapid industrialization and high costs related with the control over the chemicals emissions. In addition, the practice of the environmental treaties ratification demonstrates that the biggest pollutants do not take any commitments. For example, Kyoto Protocol is not ratified by the USA, Canada, and China. The United States of America does not ratify the agreement due to economical and political losses. Similarly to other industrialized nations, the estimated costs of the implementation of the Kyoto restriction will range from a carbon fee in excess of 250 to 350 dollars per metric ton, which is equal to 2.6 – 4.2 percent of real GDP. According to the estimations, loss of biodiversity results in annual loss of ecosystem services worth approximately 250 billion dollars. At the same time, as long as biodiversity remains a basic source of natural services that satisfy human needs, the nations are not willing to preserve the biodiversity.

Great number of states involved in the environmental negotiations creates obstacles to the process of development of the single position on the issue. For instance, during the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol that addresses the problem of climate change, the positions of the international community on discussed subject varied greatly. In particular, the UE supported strict targets and timetable for emission reductions. At the same time, Russia, Japan, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, and Ukraine tried to minimize the negative economic impact of emission reduction with the implementation of the market mechanisms. Developing nations prioritized social and economic security. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries underlined the necessity to eliminate a possible negative impact of the environmental negotiations on the export markets of oil and natural gas.

  1. Besides the mentioned factors, national interests also have an impact on the global environmental politics outcomes. They include domestic political factors, environmental vulnerability, and international sources of influence. Domestic political factors have a direct impact on the position of the countries during the negotiations. For example, certain political parties or environmental lobbies can contribute to the success or failure of the negotiations. During the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, the European Union failed to provide the necessary outcome of the negotiations due to the lack of support of the initiatives from the separate member-states.

According to the studies, till 2050, European countries will experience vulnerability to water resources due to water scarcity, droughts, and floods. As a result, the issue has determined the increased attention of the EU to the adoption of the international mechanisms of the marine and fresh waters protection.

Traditionally, the European Union demonstrates an international source of influence on the range of environmental issues. The member-states of the European Union has supported the adoption of stronger agreements on climate change, biosafety, and other issues, while the United States failed to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.

  1. The European Union plays an important role not only in global environmental negotiations, but other spheres, as well. The member-states engage into political relations and diplomacy, trade cooperation, and development aid. As a result, the EU has influence beyond its borders. For instance, the European Union contributed to the negotiations on the establishing peace in the Western Balkans. The dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo was facilitated by the EU and resulted in signing of the agreement in 2013. In addition, the member-states take part in the negotiations on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The European Union supports the adherence to human rights. Consequently, the organization conducts political dialogues with third countries in order to guarantee the universal respect of human rights. Trade represents another sphere of the EU interests. International trade agreements are negotiated by the Union rather than by the individual member-states. It is determined by the necessety to promote free and fair international trading system. Unlike environmental sphere, the negotiations in economic and political spheres are more successful. The national interests of the European Union in such spheres are more unified and represent greater importance due to economic and political gains. While the environmental agreements impose limitations and constrain economic initiatives, they are not considered to be a priority for some member-states of the EU.
  2. One of the most insightful reading of the course is article „By 2010, Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean”, written by Brian Merchant. The main argument of the article is that under the influence of the human activities, the ocean that washes over 71 percent of the planet will be completely different in the next hundred years. The ocean represents one global interconnected system. As a result, the pollutants released in Australia can reach the Pacific, as well as emission from China can reach North America. In addition, the future of the oceans is tightly connected to the tendencies of climate change.

The results of the transformation of the ocean include the changing of the chemical composition. As ocean becomes more acidic, the ecosystems will become reordered. As a result, “coastal flooding will threaten cities, Arctic passageways will open new trade routes, and fishermen who depend on the seas will scramble to keep up with the shifting aquatic biomes”. Other negative consequences of human activities include the distinction of marine wildlife due to water pollution, depletion of the fish population due to the extensive fishing, warming of ocean waters, and destruction of corals due to the impact of acidification. One of the reasons of the situation deterioration is adherence of the nations to business-as-usual model that contributes to the processes of global warming.

Nowadays, the tendency of ocean growing and rise of sea level can be observed. It is determined by the melting of land ice and thermal expansion. According to different researches, sea level will continue to grow during the next century. Depending on the reducing of the greenhouse gas emission, the ocean can rise by 52-98 cm by 2010. If the carbon dioxide emission grows, the sea level can rise to 1.5 meters. At the same time scientists claim that even considerable reductions of emission will result in ocean rise, which has a serious impact on coastal areas. The other evidence of ocean transformation is warming of the waters. Taking into account the fact that water absorbs more heat than air, the ocean sucks in the majority of heat caused by climate change. It threatens marine ecosystems and contributes to the frequent occurrence of tropical storms. In addition, approximately 30-40 percent of carbon emissions come to the ocean, which increases the acidification of the waters.

Thus, the article demonstrates that the human activities directly contribute to the transformation of the ocean. The examples of ecosystem degradation can be found not only in the ocean, but in the other spheres, such as biodiversity and ozone layer. In order to address the issues, the international community has to engage in environmental negotiations and develop an effective strategy to eliminate a negative impact of climate change.

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