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Business and Government

Essay by   •  April 10, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  2,369 Words (10 Pages)  •  33 Views

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The complex and difficult problems posed by global warming is seen as a major issue as a result of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to intensified use of energy in the growing economy (World Meteorological Organization, 2007). As defined by the Australian Academy of Science, climate change is “a change in the pattern of weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, occurring over time scales of decades or longer.” This environmental disturbance is primarily induced by urbanization and industrialization which are associated with increased energy use in recent times (Trenberth K. and Karl T., 2003). Bringing a context to the complex and difficult problems faced by global warming, will the government and business show appropriate responses? Therefore, it is proposed that the combined efforts of government and business are needed to combat the multifaceted problem in a cohesive manner. This essay will first discuss the key issues concerning climate change, followed by an analysis of government intervention and the benefits and difficulties of government intervention to understand and repel the intricate complexity posed by global warming. The role of business in global warming is also discussed, highlighting a connection to the contributions of business activities towards global warming.

Climate change is mainly subjugated by human-induced activities which cause changes in the atmospheric composition. The intensity of this disturbance has oppressed communities due to the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions and is observed as an environmental challenge (Ihlen O., 2009). Human activities having an unequivocal impact on the environment, the atmosphere responds to the harsh emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that results from various business activities. The increase in carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere over the past 50 years has been a primary factor in global warming since the industrial era during the mid-1700s (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2017). As the gases have a long lifetime of atmospheric existence, the build-up effects in the accumulation of the harmful gases and also traps the outgoing radiation from the planet to space. This results in the overall heating of the planet causing health-related disturbances, warmer climates, rising sea levels, draughts, and disturbing ecosystems (Trenberth K. and Karl T., 2003). Fieldman G. (2011) argues that neoliberal restrictions on the state have constrained the states' capacity to fund and coordinate a spectrum of potentially significant climate adaptations. Fieldman also argues that “neoliberalism undermines social cohesion and thereby limits the potential of civil society to substitute for the diminished state. Reforms to the global neoliberal system are therefore necessary if climate-vulnerable populations are to be protected.” International organizations such as United Nations and World Trade Organization exist to maintain an international order, while global pressure groups such as Green peace act as the civil society to protect and promote the well-being of people. When climate change is seen as a state issue, global institutions pressurize the states to implement solutions. As a business issue, the government intervenes corporate policy making or even impose charges on activities depending on the burning of fossil fuels.

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, urbanization and industrialization have a large scale impact on climate change. This is evident in the case of BHP’s deadly dam collapse which occurred in Brazil in the year 2015 when millions of cubic meters of mining waste burst from a dam in BHP’s joint venture iron ore mine. As the operators ignored the signs of destruction, the disaster caused a huge volume of sludge washing out the entire village of Bento. As the mud surged through, it took away lives of 19 people, destroying the livelihood of many others and causing a disaster which will cost billions of dollars to repair (Knight B., 2016). It also left behind broken pipes and contaminated the river with mining waste. The authorities in charge of investigating the case alleged that the disaster occurred because of the mine expanding its production to balance the falling prices of iron ore.  At present, BHP being the world’s largest mining company has dissociated itself from productions. Such disasters caused due to human activities could only lead to an upward trend of intensified contribution towards climate change.

Government is the key actor in polity, which is concerned with democratic governance and security of human rights (Huong Ha., et al 2015). As interpreted by Metz B. (2010), while climate change is recognized as not just an environmental issue, but a developmental issue for many industries, the discussion of governmental intervention is brought into the picture. In order to reduce the impact of the business activities on the environment, government intervention plays a crucial factor as individual corporate action could be challenging in the changing markets to meeting the altering methods to reduce the impact of global warming. Agreements between government and industry, industry and non-governmental organizations have been formed to reduce or limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The governmental bodies of most countries have implemented taxes and other duties on fuels and some have imposed carbon taxes particularly targeted to reduce domestic emissions (OECD and IEA, 2003). Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Australia has affirmed to reduce emissions by 2030. This will mean that the emission per unit will be halved and intensity of the emissions in the economy will fall drastically (Department of Environment, Australian Government, 2017). Following this affirmation, the Australian government is currently seen to be reviewing its climate policies and is also considering long-term measures for emission control in the domestic sector and also support effective international efforts. While governmental interventions are necessary to overlook and control the activities of businesses, at times government poses difficulties in acquiring energy efficient methods and processes which hinder the growing trend towards energy management (Hansen J., 2000). Sometimes, the government intervening in corporate policymaking can be arguable as in case of the faulty assumptions made by the government of UK in 2015, where the fossil fuel prices were assumed and this caused heavier usage of coal-fired electricity. Exercising uneven policies and emission permits can affect the competitive environment within a country and similar industries globally (OECD and IEA, 2003). While setting regulations for corporations, when governments introduce renewable/green technologies and regulatory structures, could affect the management decisions of the organizations.

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