The refusal to act from many large nations will fatally restrict emission-cutting aims
Without a unanimous response on a global scale, net-zero is not viable. The issue is very much a diplomatic one.
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Diplomatic tensions have arisen as a result of the ongoing climate crisis, particularly after the formation of the Paris Agreement, in which the discrepancy of different nations’ responses and proposals has become apparent. Central is the hypocrisy of wealthy nations. President Trump is now infamous for pulling America out of the Paris Agreement on the grounds that it would ‘undermine the US economy’ while championing the fossil fuel industry. Canada’s Justin Trudeau has also made it clear they will not be abandoning oil. This is particularly painful to hear from a man who appears to be well-aware of the climate emergency. Then there’s the outstanding lack of leadership from Australia under (current) PM Scott Morrison following the devastation of nationwide wildfires. Considering this, it might be slightly forgivable (if not entirely acceptable) that some poorer, smaller nations do not feel the urge to engage in climate talks. For example, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte may be outlandish but his view that it was those rich nations who caused climate change, and should therefore step up, stems from a very real frustration. After all, the Philippines pollute little on a global scale and intend to impose their own drastic carbon-cutting measures if they receive foreign funding. Yet, the fact that this may not ever happen is not solely the fault of the hypocritical ‘polluter’ nations. Instead, it is at the core of climate diplomacy’s difficulty- that the world's fate is in the hands of very few, egotistical individuals who see to the interests of the economy above anything else. In this sense, the Paris Agreement has made progress, but its formation wasn’t the last word on climate talks. In fact, since 2015, negotiators have only watered down pledges and delayed vital decisions. This isn’t a promising sign for net-zero.
Geopolitical democracy may not have been successfully practiced until recently, but now it’s here, as signified by the Paris Agreement and a dramatic increase in political representation of climate issues. Not long ago these goals would have seemed like fantasy to activists. The fight may be far from over, but the momentum of the worldwide movement of climate change prevention is unstoppable. Even taking the most pessimistic view that world leaders are corrupt or will always fail to agree to ambitious pledges without compromise, there will be no restricting the push for net-zero. This is for a few reasons. Firstly- there’s the widespread impact of climate change. Nations across the globe are seeing the effect first hand in sporadic natural disasters, air pollution, or species extinction. They will see it as a necessity to negotiate, if not to save the world, then themselves. This is also the case if they think the economy is king because the impact on capital has proven to be equal to the damage to the natural world. Next, because strong diplomatic relations are more necessary now than ever. In terms of maintaining trade deals, both rich and poor countries will be dependent on satisfying green standards. For a nation like America, it will only take the passing of the Green New Deal to create a chain effect with international implications. Non-complying nations could see themselves cut off. Those willing to negotiate will benefit from foreign aid. It’s hard to imagine the Philippines will be undone because of its loud-mouthed President when considering their previous efforts toward the Paris Agreement and consistent pressuring of big and wealthy nations to think sustainably. But even if net-zero fails to come to fruition in time, it will be hard to see it as the fault of negotiations. After all, the leaders participating in these talks have, by and large, been elected democratically. As long as you believe that these democracies are functioning, then you can’t blame the leaders for failing to take appropriate measures, which the populations themselves would be unwilling to embrace. Still, if recent grassroots outpour has proven anything, is that communities, even those without sufficient education are recognising these issues and willing to fight.
Rejecting the premises