Dune, 2021 offers an introspection of what perhaps the world is likely to look like years from now if no urgent steps are taken to cut carbon emissions. The message is overt yet covert to an eye that is not keen on the foreshadowing the film puts across. Whereas the Director and the writers may have intended the film to cover thematic issues on man and nature, the coincidence of its [Dune,2021] release and the ongoing debate over Climate Change is undeniable. In the fictitious world, the viewer is introduced to warring communities that intend to control spice production, which according to the film, is overly profitable. As the viewer learns later, through the Imperial ecologist, there was an intent to have an ecological center that would have eradicated desertification but was thwarted upon discovering spices. In other words, the communities chose profit over saving nature, highlighting the fickle and complex relationship between man and nature.

Dune movie cover Image from kunr.org

Contextualizing the Dune, 2021 to the current conundrum facing world leaders, the coal industry declaration and the energy question, in general, appears to be a replica of the challenge that faced communities living in the fictitious world created by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth. As the Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, recently humored, the goals to cut on carbon emissions appear to have been made based on the age of world leaders who are likely not to live beyond 2050. In addition, the decision to ban coal mining and funding by developed countries in developing nations indicates the usual flaws in InternationalLaw. Whereas geopolitics and the lack of enforcement bodies remain the most common inefficiencies of International Law, the doctrine of consent under International Law is likely to present a challenge, especially between developed and developing countries.

Under Public International Law, consent appears to be express, pre-negotiated, or implied. The acts and omissions in tackling climate change will lead to a perception that certain acts are acceptable or unacceptable. An argument can, however, be made that the implied nature of customary International Law is non-consensual since states do not expressly consent to the norms and obligations that are generally accepted by other international countries. In the climate change context, however, treaty law is likely to codify the declarations. The challenge will nonetheless manifest between developed nations and developing nations, who are likely to identify the imbalances of the treaty. For instance, developed nations have only barred financing of coal mining activities but have not committed to ending coal mining domestically.

Coal-rich developing countries are not likely to be persuaded to the treaty and may observe that the limitations imposed are colonial. In the alternative, ratification of the treaty domestically is likely to have favorable modifications to the consenting state. In simple terms, International Law is structured in a way that states seek to maximize their interests and those of their citizens at the expense of the rest of the nations. In addition, developed countries will not have the moral authority to condemn coal mining activities abroad. Apart from coal mining, the absence of concrete actions to reduce carbon emissions compounds the green initiative that has been highly publicized. The pledge by African Countries can witness the drift between developed and developing nations by the 25 African leaders who urged developed nations to make good their promise to deliver $100bn to fight climate change. Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, noted that African countries are “disappointed” by the failure of developed countries to honor their pledge to provide financial assistance to developing countries. In retrospect, African countries may argue they only contribute to the world’s 3% of global emissions, and it’s their time to leap the fruits of industrialization.

The lack of a consensus between states will thus likely lead the world to a “Dune” scenario where profits are prioritized over making any meaningful challenge to cut carbon emissions. The globe is likely to slowly but surely become one large dessert where like in Dune, 2021, we will conserve every drop of water. The situation is dire, and future predictions argue that countries will go to war over clean water. In Dune, 2021, one of the scenes provides an overview of the possibility of the two main characters being killed to harvest water in their flesh. As the demand for energy rises and global leaders are confronted over the overtures and contours of consensus under the International Law framework, the globe’s fate remains in the hands of the population and not the government and global leaders.

This article is authored by Daniel Irungu

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