The new global politics of climate change in the Trump era

Event summary by our intern Carolina Ernst:

Throughout his talk at the Centre for Global Constitutionalism, Dr. Diarmuid Torney from Dublin City University addressed the current unsustainable carbon dioxide emissions, the catastrophic consequences for climate change, and the possibilities of addressing these issues. While collective action is essential to address current climate trends, the current global order creates several difficulties for this.

To begin, Dr. Torney outlined the current status of CO2 emissions, which are currently higher than at any other point in the last 400,000 years. Previous goals of a 2 degree temperature increase above pre-industrial levels has shown to not be enough, and the Paris Climate Agreement concluded that the increase in global temperature had to be held to well below 2 degrees. However, this movement has faced backlash, with the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and Brazil’s President-Elect having previously pledged to also withdraw Brazil from the Agreement, although this pledge has now been withdrawn.

Dr. Torney outlined a series of factors that make effective climate action difficult, despite the necessity for such action. Firstly, unlike the top-down arrangement of the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreement is built on nationally determined contributions, meaning that the members of the agreement outline their own efforts to combat climate change. Secondly, Dr. Torney referred to Ostrom’s polycentric governance, arguing that the many independent decision-makers create challenges for effective collective action, which is needed to reduce the immense ecological footprint of developed countries.

In conclusion, Dr. Torney’s talk addressed the current trends in carbon emissions, and their consequences for climate change, while outlining the challenges of effectively mitigating these changes.