Climate change is without a doubt a critical international issue that has become impossible to ignore. Climate change most definitely has troubling implications for international relations and needs to be addressed. But how the problem should be addressed depends on what school of thought you analyze it from. A realist perspective would assert that because cooperation between states is impossible that any attempts to stop it would be futile while a liberalist perspective would in contrast conclude that through interdependence and mutual interests a solution is possible.
Marxism would take a different approach and see it as an opportunity for a class uprising to stop the expansionist and destructive forces of capitalism on the environment.
A realist perspective on climate change is most definitely dismal. One core belief that realists hold is that cooperation between states is impossible because the international political system is anarchic and international institutions are therefore useless because they have no power. Realists assert that it would be irrational for states to attempt to cooperate because enforcement is impossible and cheating by other nations is likely(Slaughter 2).
If one nation agreed to lower its emissions they would disadvantage themselves relative to other nations and see little of the benefit. So because cooperation is essential in stopping climate change and realists believe this to be impossible, one would come to the conclusion that climate change can’t be stopped.
Liberalism comes to the opposite conclusion. Liberalism sees cooperation as possible and desirable. It can be reached by fostering interdependence through mutual interests and international organizations.
In the modern world, there is more interdependence than ever and so cooperation in terms of solving climate change serves everyone’s mutual interests because if climate change destabilizes one nation it will affect the others negatively. There is also ample evidence that international organizations can solve international issues. An example would be the Geneva Conventions in establishing human rights conventions. Examples like this one demonstrate that a liberalist perspective is not only more optimistic but more useful and backed up by evidence.
Marxism takes a different perspective on climate change in comparison to both realism and liberalism. Marxism would likely see climate change in the same way Lenin saw imperialism in that it is the unavoidable consequence of capitalism which seeks infinite growth in the face of limited resources and markets(Buecker 54). By seeking these contradictory goals climate change is inevitable but while Marxists would see climate change as unacceptable, they might also see it as a necessary evil, again, like imperialism. The effects of climate change undoubtedly affect the proletariat more and because climate change is a global issue it could lead to the class consciousness Marx advocated for and spur a proletariat uprising against the bourgeoisie. This would put an end to the expansionist policies of capitalism and because it would be in the proletariat’s interest to stop climate change, ideally in this communist state measures would be taken to stop it.