Environmental Encounters or Foreign Policy?
New Horizons in Environmental Politics series
Climate change is one of the main challenges facing mankind in the twenty-first century. Industrialization – first in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and the Soviet bloc, and later on in the emerging economies in Asia – has triggered unpredictable changes, forecast to generate an average increase in global temperature of some 1.8°C to 4.0°C by the end of this century (IPCC 2007). These changes are expected to lead to droughts, floods, melting of the Arctic, sea level rise, as well as extreme weather events. In line with the trend of addressing regional and global environmental problems through multilateral environmental agreements since the 1970s, the issue was elevated to the global agenda in the 1980s. In order to tackle climate change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992, followed by its Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The former describes the problem of climate change and broadly defines the task at hand, as well as the principles to guide international cooperation in tackling the problem. The latter represents a step forward, establishing legally binding targets to reduce or limit the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries in the Annex I group in comparison to 1990 emissions levels, and their responsibility for financially assisting the non-Annex I group of developing countries with climate mitigation and adaptation actions.
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