Climate Change: global issue, global trouble

The China pavilion at the 2014 UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima (PHOTO: ClimateReporters/Atâyi Babs)
The China pavilion at the 2014 UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima (PHOTO: ClimateReporters/Atâyi Babs)

By Cosmos Nike NWEDU

The discourse of global climate change is no doubt one of the greatest difficult issues the world is facing contemporarily.

This is because there are inhibiting factors surrounding it. The regime has been consistently prone to divisiveness in the global effort to fight the changing climate despite the need for urgent and serious attention, strategy, commitment and passion to attenuate the problem to the maximum extent possible.

Although countries in recent times appear to have agreed more on the fact that climate change is not just only real but also, a global problem, what is rather the crux of the matter lies at the heart of geopolitics. Some issues which have been intractably of irreconcilable nature and which pose serious problems to the regime are such that revolve on doubt associated with climate negotiations, national economic interests and the nature of actions or roles that a specific or a category of countries should undertake. These issues are discussed below.


Climate Change is unarguably clouded with doubt.

In reality, to many people out there, it is an incredible belief of uncertainty. Little did these people know that climate change subsists neither did they know its effects. Instead, they see it as the greatest blasphemy of their time, which is being triggered by the western world with ulterior economic motives.

It is unimpeachable to say that many people see climate change on the same prism with the long age sermon of the second coming of Jesus Christ in which Christians all over the world have a dividing belief; some of them being firm in their faith that Jesus would surely come to save the world whilst some others believing it as a great blasphemy of our time.

Although climate change scepticism is a trend, such can be seen in two causative perspectives. In its first viewpoint, some people are naturally ignorant about the changing nature of climate with its accompanying trans-boundary effects. This category of individual have not perceived any signs of current trans-boundary climate problems, perhaps they still have not observed the phenomenal change of the universal climate within their natural environment.

Such people have little or even no knowledge of what the world is talking about climate change. And they are always ready to put down any debate about the changing climate.

The second perspective of climate scepticism is desperately fostered. It is part of the global politics on climate change. It is a movement against any policies that would tend to regulate industrial or human activities from which the drivers of climate change come.

Such people are industry owners and investors especially in the fossil fuel sectors. This category of people believes that international climate change policy is adversative to their corporate survival. So, they engaged different means of clamping down international effort to, not just create the awareness of the changing climate but also, to follow a common policy pathway in tackling the problem.

For instance, in one of the responses I read on an article written by Avik Roy in New Delhi, India, a respondent highlighted that many corporations in the United States of America deny the reality of climate change and global warming.

The respondent’s standpoint has been corroborated in different capacities. It is no longer news that many international oil companies in the United States of America hired some scholars and anti-climate policy scientists to debunk scientific evidence on climate change especially evidential reports from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC).

Authors such as MacCright and Dunlap have argued how the activities of some American anti-climate policy movements marred global perception of climate change.

To the same degree, earlier this year, the Union of Concerned Scientists made it clear that most of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations have been desperately diffusing false information about global climate change. There are truly divergent opinions between the public and scientists about the true state of climate change in the world.

It is a divergence of understanding and misconstruction that thrust in the two perspectives of climate beliefs. Obviously, these are big issues, which the epoch of international climate change has been facing.

Empirically, I argue that those who believe in the unreality of global warming and climate change are rather deceiving themselves. They lack the experience of the phenomenal change. I can tell of my experience.

I cannot forget to remember my far back years in the village when there used to be constant heavy rain. Sometimes, rain could fall nonstop for up to a week. I mean rain falling from morning till night for complete 7 days. I could also remember what we normally call harmattan period in Nigeria, an equivalent of winter.

During this period, you absolutely cannot bath without hot water; perhaps you could wait until the sun rises to a certain degree. The wind rapidity of that period was something else that shook even buildings, raising dust and the atmosphere clouded whilst threes tipped. Everything about this period was completely unbearable. But today, things have changed for us negatively.

We pray for rain now. Although it could still rain torrentially, the pattern has drastically been altered. No more severe harmattan, but the traditional rationale behind severe harmattan is that it prepares land very well which invariably enhances agricultural activities and produce as a typical rural Nigerian agriculturist believes. These are consequential impacts of changing climate.

Questions may arise as how this misunderstanding about the true existence of climate change can be reversed and put in order. There is the need for states and international community to bridge this misleading belief. People should be clear in their understanding of the existentiality of climate change; being aware of the trend in climate change. This is expedient because without the knowledge of a problem, no solution can be uncovered.

National Economic Interest
Global politics of climate change is likened to ordinary global politics because it involves a lot of interests. Many states especially the developing nations are well propitious with fossil fuels.

By many provisions of international instruments such as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII) of 1962, there has been an incontestable indefeasible sovereign rights of these states to absolutely determine in whatever manner they please, the utilization of their natural resources for the benefit of their citizens and national development.

A lot of these countries have caused more harm than good in exploiting these resources and the effects of which have great negative impacts on the global climate.

Because we believe that improper or inefficient exploitation of fossil fuel causes dangers to the global environment and with climate change issues bursting around the globe, there is appearing to be where nations are pressured to focus on alternative energies not only against their own economic wishes but also in contradiction of the provisions of these international instruments.

There is also a counter-attack on this effort as well off corporations in the industry are spending billions of dollars just to ensure some states are well within their petroleum industry so as to enable them benefit from it. These scenarios are symbolic of difficulties that bear influential impacts on reaching unanimous understanding in the epoch of international climate.

We however believe that climate change does not only come from the above source. Industrial activities are accounted. Many industrialized nations are now being threatened as efforts to limit the amount of greenhouse gases would tend to point at their industry activities, which will have much to say about the way in which their corporations or industries thrive, thereby limiting their economic growth and national development.

This is why many of all these nations are taking different vent in dialoguing climate dilemma. It has been the reason why some countries such as USA refused to be guided by the Framework Convention on climate change. Therefore there are dangers of known and unknown in global climate debates.

Interestingly, the prevailing international debates have been channeled on how to ultimately balance the interests of nations. This is a big issue in climate change dialogue and which must be resolved in favour of the global welfare.

The objectivity of this dialogue should be borne out of the fact that a nation’s economic interest does not override the lives of the whole world. One of such bold but unrealistic attempt was the “equity principle” in the Kyoto Protocol.

According to Dr. Sergei Vinogradov, “one of the principles of international law is how to balance the interests of states”. Agreeing with him poses a question; to what extent will such interests of nations be reconciled to ensure justification for it? Is it at all times that this becomes expedient, when and how should we apply this principle, can the rationale for its application (equity principle) be realized and justified?

Bearing in mind the current realities of different nation’s economic growth and of the trends in their greenhouse gases emissions, equitable principle with its twin common but distinguished obligations and corresponding competencies to my view, have become a smouldering ember of disintegration to fighting climate change.

These concepts have become remarkably unhelpful in marshalling climate change dilemma. Countries like China and India have overgrown USA’s emission level and majority of these emerging countries perhaps have been projected to escalate their level of emissions not just at a parallel scale with developed nations but also, uncontrollably to a higher degree than industrialized nations. For this reason, I argue that the principle, that developing countries do nothing in abating climate problem has become exceedingly important to be restructured in such a way that the normative standard will capture the current realities of emissions growth in developing nations.

We must understand the fact that we owe the mother earth a duty, individually and collectively. Efforts to curtail climate issues have to be made in such a way that an individual should be responsibly encouraged to contribute to this struggle. My argument is on the basis that we are born to this earth and to which, we assert certain rights, such rights we claim should be correlative of duties; duties we owe the earth individually and collectively to ensure that it is a safer, greener and turbulent free place for our current generation and posterity.

Both national and international communities should be willing to encourage individuals everywhere in the world especially youth to engage in this crusade. Young people are determinate in bringing change. They fear nothing but invest more in the future. While this is done, corporations, non-governmental institutions and other establishments are all stakeholders to this discourse. But incentivizing their activities will mean a lot to achieve global climate objective.

At the upper level, a collective role by nations should appear more concrete and devoid of optional compliance rather, it has to make nations accountable at the global level. Lobbying of states is necessary for one voice that will materialize into a common global treaty or climate agreement, which binds all nations.

Nature Of The Roles

Now, enquiries may also arise as to, what are the roles needed to make climate change objectives achievable and how? Who should play these roles?

Truly, climate change involves a plethora of drivers that are mostly underrated especially in developing countries. However, like as I have said earlier in this article, we are all casualties of climate change and as such, there is the need for concerted efforts. Individuals, governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations and other institutions should be seen as forerunners and as necessary stakeholders.

It is not uncommon that indiscriminate deforestation, bush burning, logging, et cetera in the developing countries especially in the remotest parts are still the order of the day. They do this with many reasons ranging from agricultural purposes to hunting. Little did they know that these cause more harm than good to themselves and to the world.

These activities, just as they drive climate change also, cause erosion, change of landscape, extinction of endangered species and poor agricultural produce as natural nutrient in the soil is eroded. It is therefore needless to say that climate change actions should be made to take a breathe from the grassroots by reaching appropriate people.

Having much to say with the nature of roles that are necessary to tackle escalating trans-boundary effects of climate change is a correlation of policy architecture desirable to do that. This interconnectivity has spurred a forum at the international level to make a case for the propriety or otherwise of the current regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on climate Change and its preponderant Kyoto Protocol.

To this end, many countries advocate intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that are conditionally motivated which would be domestically carried out as part of their efforts to control climate change. This is otherwise pledge of countries; what they are willing to do, and a version of what is best known as “pledge and review.

Unfortunately, countries however, have been called upon to submit their INDICs as follow-up actions to the imminent 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the Framework Convention, which will be held in Paris by December 2015. Although, we do not yet know the formula for anticipated policy outcome of the Paris conference, I view it with ambivalence. It is a mistaken pathway.

While acknowledging that country’s rationale behind this policy approach is to take into consideration national circumstances that will reflect their capability especially as encapsulated in the Framework Convention in the “equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities”, it is important to note that this is not an effective way to tackle climate change.

Climate change is a global problem. As such, individual countries through their wilful pledges cannot tackle it because of political will, complexities of national legislature and the type of governance system a particular country operates. So, bottom-up approach is somewhat an illusion by its proponents. I do not find a place to agree that national legislation and policies on climate change are best policy architecture that will have to inspire the regime’s policy framework or pathway. It is a cloak for deception by countries.

Generally speaking, in dialoguing climate change, the world should be ready to consider every single step to be taken, and how such will be taken. The things need be done and how, who will do them. There should be knowledge creating awareness of climate change, its effects for the rural dwellers. Young people should be called upon everywhere in the world. NGOs should be called upon as great stakeholders.  What is most important is that we all must know what is happening to us, we should understand its sources before we seek the remedies and the best doctors to administer the remedies and how to encourage the doctors to take care of the patients.


  1. Nice write up. The issue in my opinion is taking the discussion on climate change out of the big stage and putting it in the domain of the average person so more people would have and understanding of it. Like the writer mentioned, the average person I skeptical when it comes to such topic. How then can it be put in the consciousness of the average person?….


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