Next Wednesday, I have volunteered to give a presentation to my international law seminar on the following questions:
- Why has the regulation of CFCs been a success while the Kyoto Protocol has failed?
- Should the USA join the Kyoto Protocol, and if so, why?
- What roles have been played by Governments, NGOs and international organizations in the development of international environmental law? What is the basis of their authority in this field?
Substitute persistent organic pollutants (POPs) for Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and it is a very good match for my thesis.
To give very short answers:
- Because there were substitutes readily available, the science was strong, and the cost of dealing with the problem reasonable, in the case of CFCs. Climate change is more difficult on all counts. (See the paper I wrote on the Stockholm Convention for my First Nations politics class in 4th year.)
- Yes, because it is a first step on the way to an agreement or collection of agreements that will stabilize GHG emissions, in the medium term. Ultimately, doing so will be much cheaper than suffering climate change, and will not carry the same terrible social and ecological costs.
- Their authority is based on expertise and legitimacy. See my thesis, in 88 days’ time for a more comprehensive answer.
Reading some more of the international law involved should be both interesting and useful. This is probably the first time the environment has been specifically addressed in any course that I have taken at Oxford.
PS. Much as I hate to reveal a fact that I might later win bets with friends about, I feel compelled to tell one that I learned earlier today from Kate. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), has black skin: a feature that helps it to absorb energy from the sun, and thus keep the bear warm.