By Kevin Stoda, Europe
At the G-8 Summit in Italy last week, many observers were disappointed when India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico did not commit themselves to targeting Co2 and other gas reductions along as they had been asked to do by many signatory states of Kyoto Climate Control treaty. It surely would have been helpful to the entire planet if these other five key developing states had done more than orally recognize that global warming is as a reality and that they are part- and parcel of the problem, too.
Stephen Krasner in 1983 defined "regimes" as "principles, norms, rules, and decision making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area." Like the concept of capitalism (i.e. a term which is so elastic as to allow conservatives, neo-liberals, and socialists to have their own different description of what capitalism should look like), regime theory has been embraced by almost every part of the political-economic perspective, as well, in terms of explaining how international organizations and systems form, grow, and wane. Further, neo-marxists and cogntivists have also adopted the language of regime theory in describing how regional communities along with their common norms of behavior develop over time.
Using the prism of regime theory (and setting aside hegemonic theory), Bauer and Richerzhagen focus on what they call "anchor states" within regimes or regional communities of states and developing peoples. In using their terminology, an "anchor state" may function similar to any large body in the universe whose gravity, magnetism, radioactivity, and energy are pulling or pushing other state and regional actors or organizations into their common norms and activities. In their article, Bauer and Richerzhagen focus specifically on the "anchor states" of China, India, and Brazil-nations which have lots of good reasons to join the Kyoto Climate Control Regime.
On the other hand, I should note, in a different article, Richerzhagen and Imme Scholz appropriately reported in 2008 that "so far China's climate-relevant actions have not been influenced by climate considerations. Potential emission reductions are mainly a by-product of measures embedded in energy and transport policies aimed at cutting energy costs and increasing energy security." The same critique, however, goes for many of the other developing anchor states worldwide.
Nonetheless, according to Bauer and Richerzhagen, the world's climate warming regime is where the roles of anchor states will increasingly stand out over the coming years. Bauer and Richerzhagen explain that "ideally, these anchor states will play locomotive roles by which the activities and targets of the regime will be created and become global norms."
Since China is expected to be surpassing the United States in a few short years as Green House Gas Producer #1 on the planet, China has a particular global burden to carry-not just as leader of developing states-but on behalf of the entire planet. In short, whether the entire planet comes to meet anti-global warming targets in the next years and decades will likely be the result of how major Asian state actors, like China, India, Russia, and Indonesia evolve to become stronger (or weak) members of the Climate Control regime.
The Pacific coastal emphasis of China's phenomenal current development projects, i.e. over the last three decades, has created a situation whereby Chinese coastal region is filled with megacities. Such coastal megacities are in line to be extremely adversely affected by both rising sea levels and climate changes.
Moreover, as many of China's rural non-coastal regions are still vastly underdeveloped, the stream of 100s of millions of Chinese moving to the mega-cities is simply going to increase for the next decade. Therefore, coastal flooding and climate changes leading to typhoons and other major storm will thus effectively soak both the poorest and richest in China.
On the one hand, this pressure from Mother Earth's changing climatic forces should lead to more-and-more concern by Chinese elite and their bureaucrats for the plight of the Chinese people, i.e. as the planet is expected to warm by 1 ½ to 2 degrees by 2050 (and more thereafter if global greenhouse gases are not soon capped and reduced annually across the planet). On the other hand, the poorer desert regions of China could become even more adversely affected by the oncoming climate changes-leading to greater desertification and loss of habit in many rural and former agricultural areas. This, in turn, might hence lead to even more increase migration to the Eastern Coast of the Communist-controlled state.
In short, even thought the Chinese government has not fully responded to nor reacted to the increasing threats of climate change, it is not likely that the Chinese leadership will be able to ignore the threat to stability for much longer. Similarly, the climate changes affecting China will likely cause China and in neighboring regions to face conflicts due to the increased intra-state migrations caused by climate an topographical change.
Already, China has increasingly begun importing grains and other food stuffs. This affects productions in neighboring states. Meanwhile, changes in climate will certainly lead to agricultural shortfalls in China-at least until the agricultural producers comprehend which crop varieties will soon need to be planted as the climate changes and China's pent-up demand for further development in food production are transformed to meet the regions' evolving physically transforming geography.
Likewise, India, with its historical dependence on annual monsoon seasons for its agricultural production is another Asian coastal country threatened by an increase in climate change. Flooding and loss of coastal agriculture and tourism industries due to sea level rise is another worrisome reality for India as the planet face the hottest century since man began keeping track.
Great wealth along the coast, like in Mumbai and Calcutta or Trivandrum, will simply go lost if the sea rises. However, in all likelihood, it will be India's poorest who will be hurt most by global climate warming and change. This is because India's agricultural sector is still heavily dependent on family farming and on extended family help from sometimes-landless-peasants on the farms.