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March 12, 2013

PSU professor studies international climate negotiations

PLATTSBURGH — To Dr. Lauren Eastwood, combating climate change is far more complex than simply addressing environmental issues.

“It takes you out of environmental questions and into a whole range of moral and political questions,” said the associate professor of sociology at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For the past several years, Eastwood has been attending meetings of the United Nations, including the group’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biological Diversity, and Forum on Forests, where she studies the processes involved in U.N.-based environmental policy making, as well as how civil society engages in trying to influence such policies.

She is currently writing a book, expected to be released sometime next year, titled “Negotiating the Environment: Civil Society, Globalisation and the UN,” in which she discusses international policy making from an insider’s perspective.

QATAR SUMMIT

In recent months, Eastwood has attended the Convention on Climate Change in Doha, the capital of the State of Qatar, where she witnessed negotiations on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty intended to obligate developed countries that emit significant amounts of greenhouse gasses to reduce them.

However, one issue with the protocol, Eastwood said, is that when it was enacted in 1997, it was much easier to establish what constituted a developed versus a developing country than it is now.

“These environmental negotiations were set up understanding the world as being relatively easily dividable into two sorts of countries: ones who were creating the problem and ones who were experiencing the results of that problem,” she said. “And that’s not so clear anymore ... and to some degree, it is used as an excuse for developed countries not to make strong commitments.”

STALEMATES

The United States, she noted, which comprises about 5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for a far greater percentage of global carbon emissions, has chosen not to sign onto the protocol.

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