Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2016


John Van Buren


During the last two decades, a perceived lack of scientific consensus coupled with a trivialized need for environmental accountability has led to the entrenchment of a global phenomenon: political apathy. The principal forum for international climate change action has been the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has led to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and numerous international meetings of stakeholder nations. Although climate change agreements emphasizing carbon emission reduction have been reached through these international approaches, the standards intended to meet the obligations and objectives set by such agreements have failed repeatedly to be implemented at the national or regional level by both developed and developing nations. This paper summarizes the history of the use of international policy as a tool for solving global environmental problems and evaluates the precedent set by policies considered successful, identifies the key political stakeholders and their roles in the past 20 years of attempted policy, and analyzes the shifting role of economics in the path to climate progress. Additionally, this paper provides policy recommendations based primarily on national and regional carbon cap-and-trade systems, carbon taxes, renewable energy technologies, and practical adaptations until mitigation measures can be enacted.