Climate Change Argument Analysis
The US asserted itself as one of the largest economic and military powers by refusing the Kyoto Protocol without fear of sanction from other states. While the Protocol was eventually ratified after Russia’s agreement in 2005, a neorealist would argue that the concessions given to other members to continue their involvement damaged the Protocol’s ability to bring about change. Neoliberal institutionalists instead argue that the regime did not provide enough incentive for the United States to join. They see a state’s decision to join a treaty is based on two factors, the potential damage of climate change and the relative cost to reduce emissions. While the United States would be affected by climate change, their relative vulnerability is low compared with other states, and their economy is so reliant on fossil fuel that the cost to reduce emissions is too high for them to justify. The problem here is the neoliberal institutionalist assumption of monetary value- they limit politics to tangible or numerical reasons, such as national interests in their domestic economy. They pay little heed to intangible forms of value, such as human life or suffering. This allows states to make judgements for entirely economic reasons, so when faced with issues like climate change where much of the potential loss is intangible, decisions which are not representative of the potential gains or losses by combating climate change can occur. The concept of self-interest through cooperation is a key tenet of the neoliberal institutionalist world-view. As the process of globalization strengthens, we move further away from being simply a collection of nation-states, vying for self-interests, into an interconnected global community. It’s becoming less appropriate for the U.S. to prioritise their economic gain over the suffering of millions in other areas of the globe.