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Evolving Dynamics Of Climate Change Politics: Race To Global Preponderance Is Race To Ruins – OpEd

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 The planet-earth, which has fed tens of thousands of living beings for millenniums, is in a lethal condition today. NASA’s studies suggest that the mother earth is warming roughly ten times faster than the average ratio of last ice-age recovery, and resulting in a decrease of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets approximately 279 and 148 billion tons of ice per year respectively. The deadly issue capable of mass extinction (this time chances of human extinction is most likely unlike last periods of extinctions) is a secondary matter for global power projectors notably the US and China- the priority remains global dominance and attainment of the top position in the global hierarchy.

Climate change has become an issue that lies beyond individual capacity and the power of a single nation-state. It requires global cooperation and a collaborative associative approach. The most dominant theory in International relations “Realism” pledges that global cooperation is almost impossible among nation-states due to two reasons: the thirst for ‘relative gains’ and the fear of ‘deception’. 

Contrary, the Liberal theorists claim about the possibilities of cooperation among nation-states. Suppose, for example,  the nation-states cooperate and limit their greenhouse gases emission, wouldn’t it result in state intervention in the economy (which the Liberals prohibit)? Climate politics, therefore, must not be limited only to the reduction of emissions and the creation of Carbon sinks but needs to be completely readdressed in the growing dynamics of the 21st century and no less important core themes of global politics must be ignored.    

The Planet-Earth has Made no Secret of its Desires 

Since the inception of the Industrial Revolution, the earth temperature has risen to 1 degree Celsius compared to the preindustrial era and is estimated to turn warmer to 3-5 degree Celsius by the end of this century if emissions continue as it is now. The reason is the greenhouse effect caused by high industrialization, deforestation, pollution-centric vehicles, and air conditioners, and so on. Consequently, the earth has made no secret of its desires to avenge Homo sapiens for what they have caused to nature.

The last summer, in a village in Canada namely Lytton, which lies 50.2333 degrees in the northern hemisphere where the average temperature in summer is  expected to 28 degrees, it has reached to plus 49 degrees. The villagers have no air conditioners, for the climate is mild. Comparably, the recorded climate of New Delhi which is 48 degrees Celsius lies 28 degrees from the equator in the northern hemisphere. Besides, Turkish wildfires in last July and August, floods in Central Europe and the Indonesian archipelago are more devastating.  

Even worse, extreme weather is at the doorstep. It can cause hurricanes, droughts, rainfall, and earthquakes which can result in disruption of the ecosystem. It is also capable of causing mass migration, total evacuation of port cities, and a valid threat to biodiversity. These issues can initiate a determination to national security. Also, the socio-cultural and socio-economic fabric of societies may turn vulnerable.

Ruling the Ruins

The strategic clarity of the US against China is crystal-clear. Washington, at any coast, is trying to maintain the status quo, which is challenged by the revisionist and neo-imperialist policies of China. It has strengthened ties with anti-Sino and like-minded states to contain Beijing. It has also given assurance to rescue Taiwan, stationed 50,000 military personals in Japan, violated the Air Identification Zone of PRC and initiated bloc politics in the shape of QUAD and AUKUS. This strategic clarity of the US widely known as ‘Pivot to Asia’ will continue. Dalia Dassa Kaye while writing in Foreign Affairs Magazine claimed that one of the officials of the Biden Administration told him “Obama Administration didn’t follow its ‘Pivot to Asia’ but we will.  

The US has severely militarized Indo-Pacific, but it has a rationale to do so. Ambitious Chinese president Xi Jinping has asserted to erect a world-class military by the middle of the century. The Pentagon report released in recent weeks claims that China is accelerating its nuclear forces and building a diverse and sophisticated arsenal. The bomb China has since 1964 barely reaches Washington and Moscow. The report further claims that PRC is therefore making a sophisticated delivery system. And, air-to-air fueling technology, inter-continental ballistic missiles, missiles carrying multiple warheads to trick US air defense system and technology of launching nuclear missiles from land, ocean and air. Moreover, Beijing is occupying US positions or replacing it with its own distinct way of running the international system – the use of soft power. The creation of Gawadar Port to bypass Malacca, construction of the Grand Nicaragua Canal to subversive Panama, becoming the largest trading partner of countries in South Africa and South Cone is threatening US hegemony and its unipolar world.

In the face of these developments, regional dynamics have widely changed. The Japanese approach to demilitarization after World War second has finally broken down. Tokyo announced a record military budget of $41.4 billion in 2015 and increased to $50 billion in 2021 to contain Beijing. Alike, Canberra announced a $33 billion increase of six percent compared to last year and signed the nuclear-powered submarine deal. India has purchased S-400 from Russia, and South Korea is evolving in the American orbit.

Their ambitious desire for the sophistication of their military arsenal is coming at the coast of high industrialization and utilization of unfriendly environmental energy. The US, China, and Japan almost cause 45 percent of global emissions with more rhetoric and less action policy against the crisis. Tokyo’s policy against climate change has been declared insufficient because coal accounts for 32 percent of its energy usages. Furthermore, in the recent E3G Coal Scorecard of G-7 countries’ coal policies, of Kishida Administration has been ranked 7th indicating frequent and rapid actions and conversion into renewable energy.

In the same vein, the New York Times claims that PRC burns more coal than the rest of the world combined, and Foreign Affairs pledges that the Xi Administration emits carbon more than the rest of the developed world. Despite agreeing at COP21 that it would lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent, yet in 2020, built over three times more new coal-power capacity than the rest of the world combined and more than 60 percent of BRI energy financing is found to be in nonrenewable resources. President Xi has officially claimed that China will become carbon neutral before 2060, but the recent non-compliance of Beijing proves that there is a contradiction between the rhetoric and the actions of the regime. Hans J. Morgenthau rightly claims that there is no space for ethics and altruism in the political domain, and political intentions can be changed overnight. China probably would be following the same stratagem because it will inevitably come to its national security and the desire of attaining top hierarchy.  

Fortunately, Biden’s scorecard on climate is better. He is investing $ 1.7 trillion to become a clean energy economy by 2050. And his credibility also cannot be questioned because he has been leading this issue for the last three decades, wrote a climate change bill ever introduced in the US Senate and as a vice president invested a record $ 90 billion in clean energy. Most importantly, in the recent G7 summit the administration has introduced a ‘Cornwall Consensus’ which targets WTO regulations and its incompetency in dwelling income inequality and climate reforms. The analysts claim that these provisions are replacing the Washington Consensus. Irritatingly, there are still two questions for the administration to answer. Firstly, can these altruistic provisions go parallel to the American policy of Pivot to Asia to contain its enemy of all times in Indo-Pacific and secondly, can it provide assurance that there will be no future unilateral withdraws as Trump did. Thus, the climate deadlock is more important than all other contemporary issues. If dominance remains the priority, then global power projectors will not be ruling on chokepoints, civilized people to run the capitalism and strategic locations, but the ruins caused by climate change.

And the way forward 

By far, cooperation on climate change is a myth, running as per the dynamics that realists suggest. The budget announced to finance developing countries that they could limit their emission is $ 100 billion to be provided by the end of 2020 but it is almost 2022 and only $ 80 billion has been paid by the industrialized world. The world’s largest polluter: China, remained absent in COP26, and Russia carrying 20 percent of global forests followed suit. These insincere diplomatic steps do affirm that both countries are not willing to cooperate on any global affair under western leadership, which they understand a threat to their relative hegemony and influence.  

Therefore, there remains a Liberal mindset to coup up with global warming by the use of institutional forces and Nationally Defined Contributions. History bears witness that such institutionalism badly failed and resulted in devastation of World War First and, consequently, its credibility cannot be fully trusted. And still, if we trust this system, it will increase state intervention in the market, which is against the Washington Consensus for which the US was exhausting its resources to make it superior to the communist model of the market. Today, the Washington Consensus failure is on the stage. The creators themselves are questioning and replacing it with a Cornwall Consensus and it is not The End of History which Francis Fukuyama said to the praise of capitalism and the free market.    

Yet there is no significant way forward but the realization, realization in a sense to cooperate for the self-good; finding one’s betterment in cooperation with others no matter it coasts any prevailing consensus, market model and political system. And it is possible. As more than 7 million people across six thousand different locations probably in 185 different countries protested against climate change under the principle of realization, why can’t major powers initiate rapid and frequent acts? We, at no coast, are in the position of denial of statesmen’s limitations, but there are spaces of more to do than to confine to COP only, and if the dire needs of planet earth are not realized in no time, perhaps a mass extinction then awaits us.          

* Shah Meer is an undergraduate student of International Relations at the University of Balochistan. He is an independent researcher, and can be reached at [email protected].  

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