Climate Change Policies and Regulation

Introduction

The current changes in climate patterns have attracted attention from researchers and institutions as they endeavor to formulate and implement policies. However, the debate on climate change has been controversial with some people supporting the idea of human activities as the core source of the change while others are refuting the claims. Global warming entails a significant contributor of climate change and it poses threats to humanity. Human activities contribute to global warming, and thus the solutions to climate change lie within the reach of humans.

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Research indicates that the majority of scientists agree that human activities contribute to climate changes. According to a recent survey by scientists across the world, evidence attributes changes in climate for the past 50 years to factors linked to human activities1. Furthermore, philosophers support scientists by claiming that changes in climate arise from human activities that violate ethics and justice to the environment and fellow human beings.2 Although most policymakers agree with the common view that links human activities to global warming, some individuals oppose this argument.

The critics of human-linked climate change argue that human activities contribute partially to global warming, but not to extents that require a response from policy makers3. However, some move to the extremes to deny the prevalence of climate change, which contributes to a violation of people’s rights to live in an environment free from hazards. Unfortunately, some of the utterances supporting the non-existence of climate change are geared towards controversy; in other words, these people make such allegations simply to remain controversial because they do not cite or give and evidence of their claims.

Possible solutions

Scientists recognize greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide as significant products of human activities that contribute to global warming. However, people can control their activities and regulate emission of these harmful gases to the atmosphere through various ways. First, there is a need to reduce consumption of electricity in homes to reduce the rate of generating electric power that contributes to the generation of greenhouse gases. During the production of electricity, power plants burn fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide as a by-product. Improving efficiency in the consumption of electricity for domestic use entails a significant remedy. For efficiency to be achieved, energy-saving appliances and energy-efficient lighting should be a priority4.

Furthermore, in the domestic setup, regulating the use of gadgets that are powered by fossil fuels reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. For example, reducing the size of lawns to include trees limits the use of lawn mowers that emit carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide during their operation. Furthermore, trees will also contribute towards maintaining circulation and ensure a balance between levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. Additionally, recycling papers and plastics materials regulates the level of pollution to the environment5.

Improving efficiency in the consumption of fuel in vehicles entails another significant solution to curtailing global warming, which contributes to climate change. Combustion of fuels in vehicles leads to the emission of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. As more people drive vehicles, the rate of emission increases, thus causing a high concentration of these harmful gases in the atmosphere6.

Using fuel-efficient vehicles and practicing efficient driving should help to reduce the rate of consuming fuel in vehicles. Currently, most vehicles manufacturers have ventured into the use of green energy technology to ensure that vehicles emit least amounts of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to the atmosphere. Furthermore, energy efficiency can be achieved through reducing the frequency of driving and using alternative means of transport such as cycling or walking7.

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Apart from the domestic sector, the commercial sector also contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases, and thus it should initiate different measures to curb the problem. Organizations can participate in conserving energy through various binding policies to both companies and employees. First, companies’ management can use office equipment and products that are energy star-qualified8.

For these products, they have been inspected and certified under the watch of the relevant organizations to ascertain that they consume little energy coupled with performing regular tasks at the same time. Furthermore, firms can adopt a policy on greenhouse gas inventory in line with the regulations of corporate climate leadership as stipulated by the Environmental Policy Agency (EPA)9. For example, a company can provide commuter services to employees to avoid the trend of driving personal vehicles to work. However, for the manufacturers, carbon offsets are not adequate solutions to stopping pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases.

For such firms, the management should venture into efficient means of production to curtail the emission of greenhouse gases. For example, using the power generated through wind and sun to power machines curtails the use of electricity and fossil fuels. Furthermore, firms should implement proper policies in relation to the production and disposal of waste. The efficiency of machines contributes to the reduction of waste production, and thus firms can invest in improved machinery that makes efficient use raw materials to avoid the yielding of excessive volumes of waste10.

Opposing argument

Solutions to curbing climate change are prone to possible opposition from deniers of climate change. The majority of these groups argue that climate change does not occur and if it does, human activities involved do not generate sufficient effects to warrant responses through policies11. According to the groups opposing the debate on climate change, policies to regulate global warming cannot succeed due to the inherent unpredictability of climate patterns. Unpredictability “hinders the implementation of sufficient systems and models of weather to determine future changes”12. However, what these opposing groups fail to take into account is that the uncertainty of models and systems does not refute that changes in climate will occur.

In refuting the claims that human activities are the primary causes of global warming, the opposing groups argue that fluctuations in the patterns of solar emissions account for the rise and fall in surface temperatures. However, scientific research indicates that although fluctuations occur, they must be uniform, which is different for the earth13. Furthermore, these groups argue that although human activities contribute to global warming, they add to the growth of the economy to significant extents.

Based on philosophical principles, both the individuals and corporate institutions should assume the responsibility of regulating the emission of greenhouse gases. People should not cause harm to others and the environment for selfish gains. Harming other people and the environment entails a form of injustice that should be eliminated through regulating the emission of greenhouse gases. Claims that human activities that harm the environment contribute to the growth of economy highlight the extents to which people are not ready to assume responsibility for their actions as they do injustice to fellow humans14.

Recommendations

The Canadian government should implement diversified mitigation policies to ensure that it incorporates different ways through which emission of greenhouse gases can be regulated. Currently, the majority of the implemented measures focus on industrial ways through which environmental pollution occurs15. For example, the country has a policy that incorporates carbon offsets to encourage firms to eliminate the production of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. In this policy, a firm compensates another to stop activities that contribute to the production of carbon dioxide.

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However, the policy is inefficient as small companies may not be in a position to regulate activities of large corporate firms16. Reducing the production of non-carbon dioxide agents entails a significant mitigation strategy through which policymakers determine the magnitude and rate of climate change in the future.

Currently, environmentalists and scientists depend on carbon dioxide agents to determine the magnitude of changes in climate. However, relying on carbon dioxide agents may yield inaccurate results as industries participate in indirect production of carbon dioxide, thus increasing the challenge of limiting the emission of carbon dioxide. The use of non-carbon dioxide agents as equivalents of carbon dioxide emissions helps to eliminate the challenge of limiting emission of carbon dioxide especially in the domestic sector17.

This method is economically feasible, as it will reduce the cost of carbon offsets among industries in the long term. However, in the short-run, the method can be expensive, as companies have to invest additional revenues to encourage firms producing carbon dioxide to reduce the emission drastically. For the implementation, the government should begin with collaborating with other countries to agree on a single carbon price and provide relevant technologies to ensure cost-effectiveness of the method18.

The government should implement a policy that aims at devaluing assets in connection to fossils and reduce prices of fossil fuels and coal. In that case, exporters will earn insignificant revenues from the export of these products, thus discouraging the production and sale of fossil fuels across Canada. Nevertheless, the government should also place prohibitive prices for imports to discourage citizens from exporting fossil fuels for use within the country19. However, this mitigation strategy may be undermined by the currency fluctuations in different regions.

For the small firms and those in non-manufacturing industry, the management should adopt the policy of corporate climate leadership as stipulated by the EPA. However, the government, through its agencies, should conduct routine checks to ensure that firms follow the set policies. Follow-ups and evaluation will depend on the company’s practices, processes, and equipment of work20. Furthermore, managers should have a corporate policy that subjects their firms to campaigns against deforestation coupled with encouraging conservation of vegetation cover and afforestation21. Such mitigation strategies are cost-effective and easy to implement by both institutions and individuals.

Conclusion

Human activities play a significant role in causing global warming that contributes to changes in climatic patterns. These changes pose significant threats to both the environment and living organisms. Although some groups oppose these claims, both scientists and philosophers agree that human activities contribute to climate change. However, the current mitigation measures are ineffective, as they have failed to meet their objectives. Therefore, the Canadian government in conjunction with its counterparts across the world should incorporate diverse mitigation policies that include various clauses to control the emission of greenhouse gases. Although the mitigation measures should be cost-effective, individuals should participate to ensure the success of the set policies.

Bibliography

Aldy, Joseph, and Robert Stavins. “Climate Negotiators Create an Opportunity for Scholars.” Science 337, no. 6098 (2012): 1043-1044.

Andrew, Jane, and Mary Kaidonis. “Carbon tax: challenging neoliberal solutions to climate change.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting 21, no.7 (2010): 611-618.

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Bushnell, James, Carla Peterman, and Catherine Wolfram. “Local Solutions to Global Problems: Climate Change Policies and Regulatory Jurisdiction.” Review on Environmental Economics Policy 2, no.2 (2008): 175-193.

Feder, Toni. “Climate scientists not cowed by relentless climate change deniers.” Physics Today 65, no.2 (2012): 22-24.

Gardiner, Stephen. “Ethics and Global Climate Change.” Ethics 114, no.3 (2004): 555-600.

Gordon, Richard. “Smart solutions to climate change.” The Energy Journal 33, no.1 (2012): 231-34.

Hunter, Philip. “Natural solutions to climate change.” EMBO Reports 9, no.6 (2008): 508-511.

Islam, Zahirul, Shannon Rutherford, Scott Baum, and Cordia Chu. “Lay Perceptions of Climate Change and Climate Change Impacts.” International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses 5, no. 3 (2014):1-14.

McCright, Aaron, and Riley Dunlap. “Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change Policy.” Social Problems 50, no. 3 (2003): 348-373.

Weisbach, David. “Negligence, Strict Liability, and Responsibility for Climate Change.” Iowa Law Review 97, no. 21 (2012): 527-565.

Footnotes

  1. Zahirul Islam, Shannon Rutherford, Scott Baum, and Cordia Chu, “Lay Perceptions of Climate Change and Climate Change Impacts,” International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses 5, no. 3 (2014):11.
  2. Stephen Gardiner, “Ethics and Global Climate Change,” Ethics 114, no.3 (2004): 559.
  3. David Weisbach, “Negligence, Strict Liability, and Responsibility for Climate Change,” Iowa Law Review 97, no. 21 (2012): 528.
  4. Philip Hunter, “Natural solutions to climate change,” EMBO Report 9, no.6 (2008): 508.
  5. Ibid, 512.
  6. Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins, “Climate Negotiators Create an Opportunity for Scholars,” Science 337, no.6098 (2012): 1043.
  7. Hunter, 510.
  8. Richard Gordon, “Smart solutions to climate change,” The Energy Journal 33, no.1 (2012): 231.
  9. Weisbach, 530.
  10. Jane Andrew and Mary Kaidonis, “Carbon tax: challenging neoliberal solutions to climate change,” Critical Perspectives on Accounting 21, no.7 (2010): 613.
  11. McCright, Aaron, Riley Dunlap. “Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change Policy.” Social Problems 50, no. 3 (2003): 353.
  12. Aldy and Stavins, 1043.
  13. Toni Feder, “Climate scientists not cowed by relentless climate change deniers,” Physics Today 65, no.2 (2012): 22.
  14. Gardiner, 555.
  15. Gordon, 231.
  16. Ibid, p. 231
  17. James Bushnell, Carla Peterman, and Catherine Wolfram, “Local Solutions to Global Problems: Climate Change Policies and Regulatory Jurisdiction,” Review on Environmental Economics Policy 2, no.2 (2008): 175.
  18. Andrew and Kaidonis, 613.
  19. Weisbach, 538.
  20. Ibid, 540.
  21. Hunter, 509.
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