Being climate change a serious threat to human lives, it’s time to think about measures to coerce climate action.
Environmentalists are usually against the use of force in international politics, but the pressing need to tackle climate change is urging countries to think about using coercive solutions to prevent nations and groups from carrying out actions that could endanger the environment.
One of the main issues related to such measures is the targeting of climate “aggressors”, as behaviours are usually diffuse in both space and time and it is impossible to blame just one country or one action for causing a damage. This is why the UN Security Council is the only body that can authorise the use of force, but the chance that no one of the five veto-wielding members will stop the enforcement of these measures is very unlikely to happen, as these countries are precisely the ones that contribute the most to climate change; also, any use of force – in order to be legitimate – has to be substantially more effective than cooperative efforts to solve the problem.
The first kind of viable measures could be the endorsement of minimally coercive forms of “climate conditionality”, which would allow a country to push others to enhance their climate-friendly policies by denying economic, military or other advantages. This is already happening – for instance – in Norway, where health funds can impose lower investment ratings on countries with worse mitigation record, or within the EU, where the Emissions Trading System’s border tax adjustments in the aviation field can force other countries to improve their emissions record.
When minimally coercive solutions are not doable, high-level coercive measures can be implemented, for example in the form of military attacks and blockades. However, this is usually the least likely approach to employ, as it is the least effective one, but it can be efficient when countries can clearly identify the aggressor and the danger to the environment; for instance, this is the case of the measures implemented by Brazil in 2012 to combat illegal logging in the Amazon.
The gLAWcal Team
Monday, 6 April 2015