Climate Change and the Question of Responsibility

Topics: Natural gas, Fossil fuel, Petroleum Pages: 26 (8302 words) Published: June 1, 2015


"I ask of all of us here: If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?" -Naradev Sano (Philippines)
-COP18 Climate Talks (2013)

Table of Contents
1)Introduction5
2)The urgency of climate change6
3)The Responsibility of the Petroleum Industry7
How could it be argued that the petroleum industry holds responsibility?7 Why should the petroleum industry not be held responsible?7 What actions is the petroleum industry taking to avert climate change?8 Cogeneration8

Flare and venting reduction8
Natural Gas9
4)The Responsibility of the State10
Why could it be argued the state carries responsibility for climate change?10 What of the inequity between states?11
What actions are states taking to avert climate change?11
The Kyoto Protocol11
The example of Denmark – wind energy12
The example of Germany – solar energy14
The example of Iceland – Geothermal energy15
An evaluation of the state’s responsibility16
5)The Responsibility of the Consumer17
Why could it be argued that consumers are responsible for climate change?17 What actions are consumers taking to avert climate change?17 Saving energy17
Using energy efficiently18
Renewable energy sources18
6)Responsibility on a broader level: The Economy and Globalization20 How has the economic system catalysed climate change?20
How has globalization catalysed climate change?20
7)Conclusions22
Conceptual Model22
Literature List24
The Urgency of Climate Change24
The Responsibility of the Petroleum Industry24
The Responsibility of the State25
The Responsibility of the Consumer26
Other26

1) Introduction
With the forces of globalization working together to create a world in which time and space are compressed, we see an ever increasing interdependence and interconnection between peoples. These two factors are increasingly prevalent in almost every aspect of human activity: from the socioeconomic to the technological and the spread and development of ideas. This means that both positive and negative effects of human activity are spread – a world in which an action based on a decision in one place may be felt thousands of miles away. These human activities - from the travels we make, the products we buy, the buildings we build, the apps we use and develop to nearly everything you can think of – are dependent on the fuel which is stored and brought up from the layers of earth beneath our feet. Therefore, a key player in the process of our ‘modern’ globalizing world is the petroleum industry. Providing the fuel to our progress, be they for the better or the worse, this industry yields significant power over both individuals and states. However, as Richard Parker told Spiderman, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ The power which this industry holds as a result of its position in the economy and society enables it not only to potentially take advantage of that position but also be a driver of positive change.

One of the main negative externalities of the operations of the petroleum industry is the emission of greenhouse gasses coming from the good which they produce. Signs that climate change could be seriously harming the fragile environment that has led to humanity’s ability to prosper in the last 10,000 years are increasingly prevalent and supported by renowned scientists all over the world. In light of this global challenge, the question we must thus ask to explore this issue is the question of who is responsible for this phenomenon? As petroleum industry is the primary industry which emits greenhouse gasses that increase the greenhouse effect, the questions is: to what extent is the petroleum industry responsible for the emergence of climate change? Focusing the attention of this essay on the petroleum industry and the question of the extent of its responsibility.

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