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Topic 1 – Establishing a global price on carbon emissions

Carbon emissions are cumulative carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide gases in the atmosphere, produced from industrial processes and vehicles (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/carbon-emissions). The steady increase of carbon emissions over the last few centuries and its effects have been alarming, with highly industrialized countries producing large amounts per capita (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html#.WZy3DCiGPIU). Although emissions were flat for three years from 2014 to 2016 despite a growing global economy (https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2017/march/iea-finds-co2-emissions-flat-for-third-straight-year-even-as-global-economy-grew.html), they are still over twice as high as emissions in 1990. The cumulative effects of such carbon emissions are extremely damaging including climate change and increased health risks.

By pricing carbon, there will more incentive to businesses, governments, and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and look to cleaner and more efficient sources of energy (http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/pricing-carbon). However, in this sense, it will also be difficult to implement such a global price. Although individuals will, by their economic and environmental actions, be ‘choosing’ to pay for their own carbon emissions, it may be difficult in some countries for individuals to do so (for example, countries where driving is necessary) while others may not change their actions at all. As well, it will have to be determined how steep the price will be, as a price that might be damaging to some countries (which may include their economies and GDPs) may not affect other, more industrialized and profitable countries. Governments may also not look favorably upon a carbon price as it may affect taxes for their citizens without other alternatives, such as alternative energy sources, available.

For example, Europe’s emissions-trading program has had issues due to releasing too many carbon permits to companies in the market, significantly reducing their value which has not produced established results, coupled with a slow economy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-price-on-carbon-may-be-coming-soon-to-the-us-2016-10-12).

From the above, some important questions arise for establishing a global price on carbon emissions:

  • How could a global price on carbon be phrased that would be both beneficial to developed and developing countries?
  • What factors should go into determining a global carbon price?
  • What is the goal of a global carbon price? Thus, what can be done to make sure the global carbon price is effective?

 

Topic 2 – The question of preserving endangered pollinators

Many pollinators, including wild bees and butterflies, are beginning to go extinct, which in turn will cause the world food supply and crops to suffer (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/pollinators-un-report-1.3465373). Endangered pollinators also include species such as hummingbirds and bats.

Unfortunately, no one cause has been linked to the endangerment of the above species. Problems include the evolution of farming which has limited diversity among plants and wildflowers which pollinators eat, the use of controversial pesticides, habitat loss to urbanization, disease, parasites, pathogens, and global warming. With this diverse list of issues, and thus possible solutions, various countries can come up with personalized solutions that may not necessarily need a unified global effort. However, initiative will be needed in order to motivate countries to stop the further endangering of pollinators. For example, in the United States, much of the natural wildflower population has been used up as farmland of similar species of plant, and pesticides used have also killed weeds that pollinators use as food sources. There will need to be a trade-off between food sources and natural flower diversity, which may not be ideal with a growing population. On the other hand, pollinators are needed for many countries’ sources of food and income (http://www.futurity.org/bees-pollinators-extinction-1112572-2/). It is a tricky balance that needs to be addressed!

As well, some species of pollinators have already gone extinct, such as two species of wild bumblebee in England. Certain species of pollinator are important to specific ecosystems. Is there any way to restore the natural balance that these extinct pollinators used to preserve? Could this solution also address pollinators that are endangered?

From the above, some important questions arise for preserving endangered pollinators:

  • Which species should be included in future initiatives to preserve endangered pollinators?
  • Is there a global initiative that can address a majority of UN countries, therefore unifying the effort to protect endangered pollinators?