The Paris Accord, which is a worldwide agreement among nations, is intended to counter the effects of climate change. Its primary purpose is to strengthen the international response to the dangers of this appalling effect by maintaining global temperature increments below 2 degrees Celsius (Falkner 1109). This move is aimed at enhancing the ability of countries to deal with effects associated with climate variations. Despite this Paris strategy being the first international common course to ratify ambitious efforts against pollution through the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFC), President Donald Trump not only withdrew from the pact but also stopped the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and donations (Falkner 1110). Examining this subject cannot be exhausted without a mention of the role of economic growth in contributing to increased carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to investigating this issue, this paper seeks to find out whether economic growth is incompatible with the recorded rise in carbon dioxide emissions. It will also analyze the role of the free-rider problem and negative externalities in shaping President Trump’s resolution of pulling out from the Paris Accord. Human beings’ capacity to address the issue of global warming will also be investigated.
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Economic Growth and Carbon Dioxide Emissions
The 21st century has been characterized by the unstoppable emergence of industries due to the diverse demands of the ever-increasing world population. This turn of events has resulted in the excessive burning of fossil fuels in factories and the automobile sector. Operations from these industries have led to the release of excessive carbon dioxide among other toxic gases into the atmosphere (Falkner 1108). Deforestation that is currently being witnessed due to the need for creating space for industries and infrastructure has worsened this situation. As a result, it can be concluded that economic growth has greatly contributed to increased carbon dioxide emissions. According to Greenlaw and Taylor, the excessive use of fossil fuels and land resources since the Industrial Revolution era is the greatest reason why the world is experiencing the effect of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (117). As the global population rises, the demand for more products goes up. This situation has resulted in the sprouting of additional industries that have contributed to the inexorable levels of carbon dioxide. Consequently, these economic activities are attributable to today’s increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Various studies that have been conducted to establish the relationship between energy use and the Gross Domestic Product per person indicate that countries with lower GDP use less energy and vice versa (Greenlaw and Taylor 130). However, in heavy manufacturing countries such as China and the U.S., this trend is distorted since most commodities are produced mainly for export. In the last decade, global emissions and GDP per capita have increased at an alarming rate. The combined emission of carbon dioxide in developing countries is higher compared to the amount released in industrialized economies (Greenlaw and Taylor 214). Nonetheless, the above expositions reveal that indeed economic growth has a bearing on the witnessed rise in the levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Incompatibility of Economic Growth with Reductions in Carbon Emission
The discussion of the impacts of economic growth on climate change has often given rise to controversial views on whether developments recorded in various countries are incompatible with efforts made to reduce carbon emission. Numerous ecological economists demonstrate that unsustainable economic growth is harmful to environmental safety (Kasman and Duman 100). The implication here is that a country cannot increase its GDP while at the same time reducing the associated ecological effects.
In my view, a degree of compatibility exists between economic growth and reductions in carbon emissions. The mitigation of climate change and the continued increase in the Gross Domestic Product of a country can be executed if sustainable production processes are adopted across the world. Realizing this goal requires global leaders to boost unified actions geared toward mitigating climate change, for instance, by embracing the Paris Accord (Falkner 1120). Various environmental regulatory bodies have collected useful information regarding strategies for lessening carbon dioxide emissions by accentuating the role of cities, investing in clean energy, and developing more efficient types of machinery in all sectors. I believe that decoupling economic developments from the growth of greenhouse gases can be a benchmark for sustainable production. However, this approach calls for proper knowledge about carbon dioxide flow and its feasible effects on ecological systems (Kasman and Duman 102). In this regard, relative and absolute decoupling approaches form a benchmark for increasing GDP while adopting sustainable production models to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Relative decoupling involves controlling the rate of emissions to keep it below that of the GDP. It is important to note that this approach does not help in curtailing the climate crisis since greenhouse gases (GHGs) continue to flow into the atmosphere provided there is an increase in GDP. However, under absolute decoupling, it is presumed that economic growth can continue with little or no emissions (Kasman and Duman 106). The adoption of renewable energy resources and low-carbon resource-efficient growth frameworks in some of the most developed economies such as North America and Northern Europe provide good examples where this approach has been useful in mitigating climate change. In my viewpoint, ambitious efforts should be put toward implementing absolute decoupling to address the crisis of global climate change.
The Role of the Free-Rider Problem and Negative Externalities
President Trump’s decision received strong criticisms from world leaders, civil societies, international organizations, and the media. The United States’ move to pull out from the agreement created a deficit in unified leadership needed to lead the objectives of alleviating climate change globally. Problems associated with the free-rider problem as well as negative externalities played a considerable role in influencing the decision of President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Accord. In particular, the free-rider challenge refers to the use of resources freely without bothering to pay for their consumption (Greenlaw and Taylor 98). In the context of climate change, the Paris Accord required nations of the world to collaborate toward reducing the release of poisonous gases such as carbon dioxide. However, China turns out to be a free-rider because it has not shown its commitment to facilitating the realization of a sustainable environment.
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As such, the free-rider problem influenced President Trump to consider withdrawing from the Paris agreement seeking to achieve reasonable carbon emissions. Amid China’s pledge to collaborate regarding the mitigation of poisonous gas emissions, its large industries have continued to encourage the pollution of the environment, thereby undermining efforts made by the United States to attain sustainable carbon emissions. Therefore, President Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Accord due to the economic unattractiveness of the agreement since it encourages the development of the free-riding problem.
The above dilemma is influenced by the lack of enforcement provisions that guide the implementation of the Paris Accord. According to Greenlaw and Taylor, free riders such as China benefit economically by disregarding the essence of allocating resources towards the mitigation of environmental pollution (112). As such, free-riders compete unfairly in the free market at the expense of damaging the environment through the emission of poisonous gases. As such, this problem is connected to the issue of negative externalities because the environment as a third party is considerably damaged. Therefore, the negative externalities problem also influenced the decision of President Trump because the cost of free-riding not only interferes with the environment but also the American economy. Greenlaw and Taylor uncover that the same reason prompted the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 (83). Particularly, developing countries, as well as middle-income economies, did not commit to establishing measures that could curb the release of hazardous gases such as carbon dioxide to the environment.
The Ability of Humans to Deal with the Global Warming Issue
The current political landscape provides opportunities and challenges associated with the management of the global warming issue. Political views regarding climate change offer opportunities for human beings to adequately address the issue of global warming. Electorates in contemporary times take into account the commitment of aspiring leaders toward facilitating environmental sustainability. As a result, I am optimistic about the global population’s capacity to manage the global warming problem. The power of people in politics plays a significant role in facilitating the election of leaders who uphold the importance of combating the global warming issue. Therefore, I believe that the new political landscape provides the opportunity for people to select administrators who support policies aligned to environmental sustainability.
The current political atmosphere supports the embracement of climate science to mitigate the issue of global warming. Greenlaw and Taylor argue that climate science provides an opportunity for human beings to develop sustainable solutions to the issue of global warming (112). Therefore, despite the United States withdrawing from the Paris Accord, there is still hope for the development of scientific solutions such as the adoption of strategic measures that can help to minimize carbon emissions. Therefore, through the adoption of progressive politics, it is possible to influence people to embrace climate science to address the problem of global warming.
The modern political landscape also embraces technological advancements that facilitate the realization of effective environmental management processes. In this regard, the adoption of policies, which support the development of technologies that combat climate change increases the ability of human beings to manage the issue of global warming effectively. Some notable technologies that have the potential of rescuing the world from global warming include boosting energy efficiency and the development and deployment of low-carbon and zero-carbon innovations. As such, technological innovations offer humanity the hope of realizing a sustainable environment.
The issue of global warming is a major challenge in the world today because it influences the sustainability of the human race. The rapid growth of economies in the world accounts for the unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide emissions. The release of poisonous gas harms the environment in a way that undermines the well-being of society. Therefore, there is a need for establishing measures such as the ones implemented by the UN to mitigate the release of carbon emissions to the environment. However, the adopted strategies need to address the problem of free riding and negative externalities due to the lack of commitment by some countries such as China. Moreover, the current political landscape offers human beings opportunities to develop mechanisms that can facilitate the effective mitigation of global warming problems.
Falkner, Robert. “The Paris Agreement and the New Logic of International Climate Politics.” International Affairs, vol. 92, no. 5, 2016, pp. 1107-1125.
Greenlaw, Steven, and Timothy Taylor. Principles of Macroeconomics. 12th Media Services, 2017.
Kasman, Adnan, and Yavuz Selman Duman. “CO2 Emissions, Economic Growth, Energy Consumption, Trade and Urbanization in New EU Member and Candidate Countries: A Panel Data Analysis.” Economic Modeling, vol. 44, no. 1, 2015, pp. 97-103.