The Environment and the EU
Many people have asked me why do we need regional or world governance at all. Apart from the diplomatic, trade, economic benefits (not just economics in terms of financial, social, welfare etc) but a properly governed regional/world government can provide change and action for the most important category of them all.
Care of the Environment is no longer confined to a few tree huggers but has become a major international concern. Climate change is real and the years we have lived through from the year 2000 are proof of that.
We just had the warmest year on record (2014). A second typhoon in a year just battered the Philippines with enormity (though you could argue it’s not directly linked). Climate change isn’t new and has happened in the history of this planet before, but never has it been down to mankind as it has been since the industrial revolution began. We have been unlocking carbon stored underground and pumping it directly out into the atmosphere (along with CFCs and other gases). Yet, We have some that still deny whether climate change is happening. This isn’t a post of whether climate change is or isn’t happening however. It’s about the environment, keeping the air we breath clean, the seas we fish in clean, the rivers we fish in clean, our existence and that of many species safe.
Why national governments can’t succeed with Environmental policy
National governments are often short sighted. It’s not their fault as most governments serve a term of 5 years. The focus will always be on the next election. The Environment requires very long term commitments and not short-run policy patches.
This is where regional or world governance can come in. The UN is not restrained by terms or the slow speed of democracy in this case. The EU does have a democratic parliament so can be restricted in terms of speed. In acting to form policy. Some issues which national governments have are not present at EU or international level.
But Climate Change will only effect other continents
Well, this isn’t the case (and stop being so selfish if you think that’s the case!) “A recent paper produced by the Climate Action Network highlights the impacts of climate change on Europe, of which Oxfam is focusing on the food and agriculture aspect of the report. With projected agricultural outputs expected to decrease 2% each decade for the next century in a world where food demand is set to increase by 14% in the same period, it is time for climate impacts on food security – inside and outside Europe – to be brought onto the agenda.” As agriculture represents 3.5% of the 28 Member state European Unions GDP and employs 17 million people it would be one of the hardest hit sectors and this is what the Oxfam source recognises.
We have seen yields in Europe decrease this year due to a change in climate (regardless of whether it’s a one-off or the beginning of a pattern). I talk of the Olive yield this year which is down on years previous, due to drought.
How far should things be left to the market to resolve?
It’s a normative question and the answer to this may depend on a persons politics. Politicans on the right would tend to favour a lesser degree of intervention (a more hands of approach) those on the left generally would prefer intervention.
The EU uses ‘cap and trade’ principle. The EU Emissions trading scheme is in it’s third phase.
Note: I’ve decided to make this a living post and will update accordingly (in the post or comments below). I chose to do this mainly as I don’t have much time now not even to proof-read. I’m doing a project in my Economics module, focusing on Environmental Economics. I hope I can provide more of an insight into this subject area (and be able to explain whats in my head with clarity!) more then! I’ll update this often once I’ve completed my project 🙂
Sources: Image and quotations courtesy of – Oxfam