Book Review: Energy and Global Climate Change

Subject: Literature
Pages: 5
Words: 1433
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD


I was interested in a book on an environmental issue concerning sustainability and energy. I found the book and purchased it online. The author of the book is a well-known environmentalist, Anilla Cherian. The most relevant data concerning the author can be formulated as follows:

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  • Cherian holds her master’s degree and Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Massachusetts (“Weddings” par. 2).
  • She is an independent consultant in such institutions as UNDESA, Rockefeller Foundation, UNFCCC Secretariat, UNDP, GEF, and others (Cherian 128).
  • She is the author of a number of books and journals articles as well as reports on environmental issues including sustainability, climate change, and so on (“Energy and Global Climate Change” par. 5).

The book in question dwells upon essential environmental issues, climate change, and access to sustainable energy. The author argues that billions of poor people do not have access to sustainable energy resources, which contributes greatly to the worsening of the situation. It is emphasized that the UN, as well as other international institutions, try to find solutions to the burning issues related to the environment, but their attempts are insufficient due to little attention to the link between poverty and global climate change. The major issues discussed in the book are as follows:

  • UN policies concerning global climate change;
  • Existing solutions including sustainable energy resources;
  • The inaccessibility of sustainable energy resources to billions of poor people;
  • Possible solutions to the problem.

Outline Structure of the Book

The first section is devoted to the link between global climate change and poor people’s access to sustainable energy resources. The major points discussed in this part of the book are as follows:

  • Poor people do not have access to sustainable energy resources and have to burn fossil fuels, which contributes greatly to global climate change.
  • The UN addresses the issues concerning global climate change and launches various effective policies aimed at reduction of the volume of harmful emissions in the atmosphere.
  • The UN fails to pay sufficient attention to the accessibility of sustainable energy resources for poor people.
  • The second section of the book unveils trends existing in the UN policymaking. The author notes that significant attention has been paid to global climate change and poverty issues. However, the link between the two issues has never been in the spotlight.
  • The 1992 UNFCC and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol include only the declaration of each country’s need to communicate their vision concerning energy use and environmental protection.
  • The Copenhagen Accord and the Bali Road Map have more information on particular steps to achieve goals concerning global climate change, but there is no reference to issues related to access to energy.
  • Cancun Agreements, Durban Outcomes, and the Warsaw Outcomes also include particular steps as well as specific penalties for countries’ failure to meet the requirements, but access to energy was also absent.

The third section deals with the discussion of the energy-poverty-climate change issues during certain UN sessions between 1972 and 2012. The researcher stresses that the issues received some attention, but no particular steps were developed or introduced:

  • 1972 UNCHE resulted in the declaration of the need to monitor energy consumption with no reference to the poverty-energy-climate change nexus.
  • The WCED had some references to the correlation between poverty and energy use, which was later discussed during other UN sessions.
  • UN only sporadically discusses the climate-energy-poverty nexus with little attention to particular solutions.

The fourth section of the book includes an analysis of the role of NGOs in the debate concerning the correlation between poor people’s access to energy resources and climate change:

  • Such voluntary initiatives as partnerships for sustainable development came into existence due to the strengthening of civil society.
  • Voluntary initiatives solve some local issues and initiate a wide-scale discussion (on the UN level) of the issues related to the climate-energy-poverty nexus.
  • The lack of an accountability framework makes voluntary efforts insufficient.
  • The fifth section of the book can be regarded as a conclusion that includes a detailed summary as well as particular recommendations to solve the problem discussed.
  • The need to develop particular steps to provide access to energy to the poor is not articulated on the global level.
  • Separate attempts to solve the issue (implemented by NGOs) pose certain threats to the development of the effective agenda.
  • Immediate steps are necessary to ensure that a solution will be found.

Point of the Book

The author provides a detailed analysis of existing UN policies as well as the negotiation concerning sustainability and its accessibility. The author stresses that the lack of attention to the problem of sustainable energy accessibility makes the efforts aimed at diminishing the outcomes of climate change inefficient. The author argues that as long as the poor do not have access to sustainable energy resources the pollution will remain significant.

It is clear that Anilla Cherian believes that there is a strong link between the lack of poor people’s access to sustainable energy and global climate change. Importantly, the author believes that the issue can be solved if a debate will be held on all levels including the UN. The author states that NGOs, as well as individuals, are trying to solve the issue in various settings and the success of these attempts shows that sustainable energy is more affordable than it may seem (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 194). However, the researcher also emphasizes that the climate-energy-poverty nexus does not receive the necessary attention ion the governmental level as governments tend to view these issues as “distinct and separate issues with few, sustained attempts at policy coordination and synergy” (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 168). It is noteworthy that all these conclusions and assumptions are based on the comprehensive analysis of central UN declarations, meetings, and discussions.

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It is possible to note that the major reason for writing the book is the author’s attempt to contribute to the development of the lasting debate, which is one of the ways to find effective solutions to the problem. The author believes that each person can and should participate in the discussion to make governments and international institutions in order to develop particular policies that would ensure poor people’s access to sustainable energy.

Connection with the Myths of Nature

The book can be regarded as an illustration of the tolerant view on nature. It is important to outline the major peculiarities of this myth. The central points of this perspective are:

  • nature is an “unstable equilibrium” (Steg and Sievers 253);
  • resources are scarce;
  • acceptable risks can be accepted, but experts’ opinion is central (Kurisu 78);
  • governments can and should develop sustainable growth strategies.

The book in question is based on these four pillars of the tolerant or hierarchies paradigm. The author believes that climate change is one of the major problems humanity should solve (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 2). Importantly, humanity is seen as one of the major contributing factors to the ongoing climatic transformations. It is stressed that nature is unstable, and it is crucial to try to achieve balance. At that, the author does not mention that it is necessary to reduce people’s needs. The focus is made on the development of sustainable resources to meet the increasing needs of people.

Another point central to the book is the scarcity of resources. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, and their use is harmful. However, sustainable resources can be sufficient to meet the needs of billions of people (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 112). At present, the author stresses that poor people do not have access to sustainable energy resources, which leads to various environmental issues.

The author also emphasizes that risks can be accepted, but this decision should be supported by extensive research (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 108). Importantly, experts have to estimate the risks and develop strategies that mitigate the aftermaths of unavoidable threats. Clearly, some risks can and should be avoided.

Finally, one of the basic points of the book is the role international institutions, and governments should play in the process. The author stresses that NGOs and individuals make a lot of effort to solve the issue, but these attempts are insufficient as they lack a holistic approach and an effective framework. This can be ensured when government and international institutions invest the necessary time and resources to solve the problem (Cherian Energy and Global Climate Change 246). It is stressed that people have all the necessary tools to address the issues concerning the global climate change.

Works Cited

Cherian, Anilla. “Linkages Between Biodiversity Conservation and Global Climate Change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).” Natural resources Forum 31.2 (2007): 128-131. Print.

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Cherian, Anilla. Energy and Global Climate Change: Bridging the Sustainable Development Divide. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2015. Print.

Energy and Global Climate Change. Web. 2016. Web.

Kurisu, Kiyo. Pro-Environmental Behaviors. New York: Springer, 2016. Print.

Steg, Linda, and Inge Sievers. “Cultural Theory of Individual Perceptions of Environmental Risks.” Environment and Behavior 32.2 (2000): 248-267. Print.

“Weddings; Anilla Cherian and John Ashe.” The New York Times. 1996. Web.