Understanding CFR’s Global Governance Report Card

This month, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) reported its Global Governance Report Card for its broad range of international issues, including climate change. This time around, the organization gave the global climate change regime a D-rating. Here were the overall grades that the regime received:

CLIMATE CHANGE REGIME

CLASS EVALUATION
Understanding Climate Change Threats  Excellent Leader:  European Union, Pacific Islands Forum
Curbing Emissions and Promoting Low Carbon Development  Poor Gold Star:  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change
Monitoring and Enforcing Emissions Cuts  Average Most Improved:  None
Financing Emissions Cuts and Adaptation  Poor Laggard:  China, United States
Adapting to Climate Change  Poor Truant:  Russia, Australia
Utilizing Carbon Sinks Good Detention:

Canada

 

Clearly, the international regime has deprioritized climate change. But while this may not seem all too worrisome, the most startling grades are those that regard adaptation, both of which received poor grades. Please read my other blog post about adaptation strategies for climate change and their importance in today’s era to better understand my concern for these ratings. In essence, climate change does not seem quite imminent but does is occurring. Thus, the private sector or the government should begin investing in adaptation strategies that will ensure the longevity of society before the impacts of climate change enter into full effect. Last year, adaptation projects represented only 17 percent of global climate finance, indicating a widespread lack of prioritization for this type of strategy. However, if climate change is to be adequately dealt with, this percentage should be the opposite, with adaptation strategies representing at least 83 percent of climate finance.

According to the CFR, the United States, China, and the European Union all made modest gains with regards to adaptation strategies, but they wholly failed at assisting developing nations working to come up with similar strategies. As I note in my blog post regarding developing and developed nations, developing countries are more susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Although developed nations have more abundant finances to invest in adaptation strategies, developing nations have more to lose if they fail to implement strategies of their own. Thus, with the assistance of developed nations, these developing nations should start implementing green growth strategies that could help protect their particularly vulnerable societies. The U.S. must move form a laggard status to a leader on climate change, as its leadership on solutions to environmental issues is crucial.

As the international regime’s understanding of climate change threats is “excellent,” it is time that the regime starts actively pursuing strategies that can minimize the effects that the impacts have on society. Perhaps by this time next year, the rating will move.

Tanner Davis is a research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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