Environmental Conservation at the National Level
Last year I attended an environmental conservation conference which featured several prominent environmentalists. The conference ran for five days and it was quite an enlightening experience. The speakers covered a wide range of topics covering various environmental issues such as international environmental conservation agreements and adherence, the case of the Kyoto Protocol, and the adoption of renewable energy.
One speaker from Europe gave a rather captivating speech regarding environmental conservation at the national level with specific criticism for the US for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
The selfish nations
The speech started with an analysis of pollution statistics across different countries. The analysis highlighted the most notorious countries in terms of pollution and commitment in environmental conservation. Unsurprisingly, two North American countries performed very poorly in terms of pollution control and reduction is green house gases emissions (GHGs).
Describing the US as the most selfish country in relation to environmental conservation, the speaker was quite sentimentaland infuriated that despite the country’s poor environmental record, it refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international environmental conservation treaty that aims to reduce national emissions in a bid to curd climate change. During the Clinton administration, the US signed the treaty but it was never ratified by the Senate hence rendering it ‘useless’ in the US.
The US gave two reasons for not honoring the treaty: because it did not require developing countries to make emission reductions and also because it would seriously harm the economy of the United States.
When President Bush got into office, he mischievously expressed his concerns for the environment but again quoted the two reasons above and hence like his predecessor he failed to push for the ratification of the treaty. The speaker noted that the US has failed to ratify any meaningful environmental conservation agreement due to pressure from the powerful oil and coal lobby in the Senate.
Canada was quoted as another example of a selfish nation like its neighbor and major economic partner, the US. Canada started off well by signing and enacting the first round of the Kyoto Protocol which ran its course in 2012. However, Canada withdrew from the treaty in 2012 after failing to achieve the reduction targets specified in the framework. In fact, instead of reducing its GHGs emissions, the country’s emissions have soared with time.
The speaker noted that the country’s 2009 emissions were 17 percent higher than its emissions in 1990. Meaning: the country has failed miserably. Just like the US, Canada claimed it could not manage the set targets and hence would end up incurring heavy fines hence its withdrawal.
The conservation legend
Although the speaker expressed a lot of anger and resentment for those countries that had no commitment on the climate agenda, he praised a conservation legend from unlikely quarters. According to the speaker, Tanzania, a third world developing country in Africa was a shining example on national commitment to environmental conservation. Tanzania is a signatory of several international environmental conservation agreements.
Additionally, the country enacted an environmental conservation policy in 1997 which contains a comprehensive list of environmental conservation strategies and activities. While some of the biggest pollutant nations continue to dodge their environmental responsibilities, Tanzania has decided to fight the good fight instead of giving absurd reasons that imply that two wrongs can make a right.