Global Warming and East Asia: The Domestic and International Politics of Climate Change

By Paul G. Harris | Go to book overview

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Introduction

The politics and foreign policy of global warming in East Asia

Paul G. Harris


Introduction

Governments of the world have been grappling with the problem of global warming for over two decades. Warming of the Earth’s atmosphere is being increased by human activities - particularly the burning of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels - resulting in the emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful “greenhouse gases” (GHGs). Global warming in turn is causing climate change, which is manifested in rising sea levels, droughts and floods, damage to agriculture, and harm to natural ecosystems and species. (See Chapter 2 for a discussion of global warming and climate change science and predicted impacts.) As the potentially severe adverse consequences of climatic changes have become more apparent and better understood, the efforts of governments and, increasingly, nongovernmental actors to mitigate and adapt to these consequences have increased.

A milestone in these efforts was reached with the signing of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). Subsequent international negotiations, notably those surrounding the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the FCCC - which laid out a modest set of mandatory reductions in GHG emissions by developed countries - and subsequent deliberations on how to implement it, have been fraught with difficulties and differences among countries. The countries of East Asia (i.e. China, Northeast Asia, and Southeast Asia) have been intimately involved in these deliberations. Indeed, these countries are central to international efforts to address climate change. They include the world’s second largest emitter of GHGs - China - and other major developing-country contributors with growing emissions. East Asia also includes one of the world’s major economic powers and one of the largest donors of environmental aid to the developing world, particularly within the region: Japan. And East Asia contains many of the developing countries and vast populations that will be most affected by climate change.

This book includes studies that examine the implications for East Asia of global warming and climate change, as well as the global regime that has emanated from the international climate negotiations, and shows how the countries of East Asia play important roles in the international politics of climate change and the

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