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When people think about environmental issues, they tend to think about problems like global warming and water pollution. And those are among the most pressing environmental concerns today. However, it’s important to realize that these environmental issues are directly impacted by global politics. In fact, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, international tensions were specifically identified as an environmental threat.

One example of how politics are a part of environmental issues is climate change. In order to make real change, countries around the globe will need to work together. The most recent projections suggest that change must be made within the next decade or so. If not, the worst effects of global warming will already be in progress, and it will be too late to turn back the clock.

For big changes to happen, nations will have to work together across international boundaries. It’s especially important for developed nations to provide incentives for developing nations to do this. Countries like the United States, Britain, and France understand the importance of climate change and have the resources to do something about it. However, one or two hundred years ago, during industrialization, those countries were major polluters.

The challenge today is to help growing economies industrialize and develop without falling into the trap of pollution. Air and water pollution can harm the health of children and harm them as they develop. The smoke coming from factories is always carbon-rich. Manufacturing in the developing world is currently a huge contributor to climate change.

Without offset programs or funds to help install scrubbers in smokestacks, the problem will continue. When leaders make disparaging remarks about the developing world, that makes cooperation more difficult. Although the UN and other programs are in place, politicians must also make it a point to reach out and work with other world leaders.

The loss of biodiversity is another key environmental issue identified at Davos. Again, developing countries need help and funding to maintain habitats for endangered species. Without incentives, the lure of money and improved standards of living is a powerful draw.

Luckily, the UN and private businesspeople are taking these challenges seriously. Figures from powerful industries, like the insurance world, have concrete data to show how risks have increased. Now they will need help to put changes into practice.