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Policy Making to Benefit Business and the Globe

The world we live in is marred by many adverse things. Its situation has continued to deteriorate since modern methods were developed for making human life easier. Plants and animals have started disappearing, the landscape has begun to change, and giving a glimpse of artificiality and now the climate is even altering, perhaps to a globally threatening level. In this regard, it is vital that some efforts be pushed that would enable us to counter such changes and maintain a balance with the environment that is sustainable as well as doesn’t hamper the growth of nations.

Business has been expanding globally and with the rapid expansion of transnational firms, we are approaching a truly global village. However, these same businesses have been able to wield so much power that they are in a position to interfere with policy making and thus halt measures that may harm them. In the case of the environment, this is very dangerous and indeed a cause for concern.

As such, the arguments that are presented with regards to global warming by environmental experts need to be recognized and appropriate policy brought into place to counter it that if not influenced by transnational companies but does aim to take them along in the process. At the heart of the environmental issue that has been focused on by documentaries such as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is the phenomenon of global warming. This is an average increase in the temperature of the earth over the year that has been seen to be on account of green house gases.

The green house effect has come about through the burning of fossil fuels and release of the harmful gases into the atmosphere which is believed to cause the rising temperature. There is an increasing danger that with this rise in heat, the sea levels around the world will begin to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation, probably including expansion of subtropical deserts. This will be coupled with the retreat of the ice caps and movements of glaciers which will be mostly adversely felt in the arctic where the ice will dwindle (IPCC).

Such climate change at a massive scale could be further blown out of proportion by the butterfly effect, leading to possible destruction of island based countries like Sri Lanka, increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions and changes in agricultural yields which could harm the world’s food supple. Therefore, all this conveys that the stakes in this case are big (IPCC). Since big industries are responsible for the main extraction of gases into the atmosphere, most of which are situated in developed countries like the United States, it is a matter of establishing policy to counter it.

This proves difficult as any measure to restrict such activities will result in increasing costs for businesses which will be opposed and even lobbied against. There have been several efforts to make transnational businesses follow the environmentally friendly path on their own account. One such measure has been through the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility. The CSR movement has resulted in, and has been built around, several influential transnational initiatives that define the principles of responsible business practice (Egels-Zanden).

Protecting the environment is included in these practices and many companies such as Toyota have taken up the banner of going green. This has resulted in increased costs but they have themselves started benefiting through increased sales to the environmentally cautious customers and a better reputation. Oil companies however have opposed it as less demand for the substance harms their business. This is believed to be one of the reasons they lobbied to attempt to derail the increasing popularity of the environment friendly string of electric cars (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The broad agreement among climate scientists that global temperatures will continue to increase has led some nations, states, corporations and individuals to implement responses. The major among these is the Kyoto Protocol. Under the protocol, countries with big industries have agreed to reduce their collective green house gas emissions by 5. 2% compared to 1990. However, this has been met with opposition from some countries on account of the industries and business there. In absolute terms, China and the United States along with India are the largest emitters of green house gases into the atmosphere.

However, US rank first in per capita terms (Pennell 98). This requires the developed countries to reduce their emissions more which are a matter of contention for the US on account of its industry. Thus although it is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, it has refused to ratify it which means that its terms are unbinding on the world’s super power. Similar problems have been presented by many countries whose industries will have to be reshaped to meet the carbon reduction requirements which ultimately raise costs for businesses (Cline).

A second approach that has been taken is adaptation to the effects of global warming so as to minimize the possible damage. Some have recommended the use of equipment to condition the air so as to relieve some of the effects of green house gases. Others have recommended resettlement of coastal populations so as to take them out of the equation when the effects of global warming lead to rising sea levels (IPCC). This has been supplemented by research in adaptive agricultural practices to make sure that the world’s food supple does not indefinitely get harmed on account of rising temperatures.

Construction of flood defenses has been initiated in some regions to tackle the water flow from ice melting and movement of glaciers. Furthermore, interventions are being planned to save the threatened species and allow them to survive as their natural habitats alter. However, these measures are not long lasting. As long as the root cause continues, the effects will keep on going up exponentially and eventually destroy the environment. This will further result in more losses to smaller countries whose populations would not want to relocate (IPCC).

However, businesses choose to favor these methods as it takes the burden of these externalities away from the private sector and onto the public sector. Another innovative way to fight green house effect has been geo-engineering. This is based on deliberate alteration of the earth’s environment to deliberately counteract the effects of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. One such way is through carbon sequestration which seeks to remove the green house gases from the atmosphere. However it is a very complicated procedure with little practical application at a broader level.

Examples of other proposed geo-engineering procedures incorporate production of stratospheric sulfur aerosols and cloud reflectivity enhancement (IPCC). Most of these techniques have at least some side effect which is not overly helpful. What is particularly hampering policy issues with regards to the environmental issue is the debate about whether humans are truly responsible for global warming. Many businesses have opposed the notion and question its validity. It is suggested that scientists have been made to over hype its effects as they are on the payroll of environmental companies.

The reliability of climate change models has also been brought into play. They are not accurate enough to predict tomorrow’s weather which brings into question their use for predicting the weather far on ahead. Water vapor plays a major part in global warming (Bailey). It is argued that man made emissions like carbon dioxide has only minor effects. The increasing temperature is further seen to provide its own solution by allowing plants to grown in areas previously uncultivable, thus taking care of the food problem. However, it has to be noted that the melting of the polar ice caps is actually taking place and the earth is getting warmer.

Furthermore, studies do show a link between human activity and the rising levels of green house gases which is caused by industries and vehicles mostly (Bailey). Businesses have been seen to have a vested interest in the curbing the steps leading to environmental action. One is the obvious rise in costs. Another is the basic survival of the industry itself. As happened with General Motor’s EV1 electric car. Its rapid adaptation was hampered by lobbying from oil companies and also to some extent, Middle Eastern politics (Progue).

There was a fear that it would burgeon a trend that would lead to a fall in demand for oil (Johnson). As such, the lobbying of businesses against the environmental protection efforts should be stopped. There is a need to direct policy making that is not overly influenced by businesses but seeks to cut their losses as well so industry does not take a rapid hit, as is the fear in the United States business community. Governments could help in this regard through the use of tax breaks and tax holidays for those companies that choose to comply with green house gas emission reduction.

Another innovative technique brought into play is the granting of vouchers for extraction of gases. These set certain levels of gases that each firm can extract. Therefore, those businesses that are successful in reducing the amount of gases can sell their vouchers to other companies, rewarding them in a sense for their efforts. These efforts are required as it has been shown that global warming is a real threat to the environment and the efforts at mitigation and adaptation has not yielded great fruits.

If policy makers can be made free from the lobbying of oil and other environment harming industries, while taking them along in the plans, it could result in a much safer environment and reduced level of green house emissions, thus restricting the human element that contributes to the rising temperature of the earth which would benefit all of the human race. Works Cited Bailey, Ronald. “An Inconvenient Truth Gore as climate exaggerator. ” Reason Online. 16 Jun 2006. Reason Online. 27 Jun 2009 <http://www. reason. com/news/show/116471. html>. Cline, William. The economics of global warming?.

California: Institute for International Economics, 2008. Digital. Egels-Zanden, Niklas. “Politics Is Not the Business of Business Corporate Social Responsibility in Leading Firms in China. ” Gothenberg Research Institute. 07-Dec 2006. Gothenberg Research Institute. 27 Jun 2009 <http://74. 125. 153. 132/search? q=cache:K2guwqAjRLUJ:www. hgu. gu. se/Files/gothenburg_research_institute/Artiklar/Egels-Zanden%2520(2007)%2520-%2520Politics%2520Is%2520Not%2520the%2520Business%2520of%2520Business. PDF+business+and+politics+policy+position&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=pk&client=firefox-a>.

IPCC, 2008: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S. , D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K. B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H. L. Miller (eds. )]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001). “Atmospheric Chemistry and Greenhouse Gases”. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Cambridge, UK

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