Environmental policy – What is it, definition and concept

Environmental policy are those rules and guidelines carried out by the Government to protect and preserve the environment. However, although it is promoted by the central government, although other administrations may also have certain powers.

The environmental policy is made up of a series of norms in the social and economic plane that have the purpose of protecting the environment in any of its areas. The environment is a very sensitive issue. Excessive pollution, indiscriminate logging and the dumping of waste into rivers, seas and oceans make the involvement of administrations global, at all levels.

For this reason, there are supranational organizations and state conventions that have the representation of numerous countries and that are carried out exclusively to deal with the protection of the environment and nature. In these conventions, the situation of the subject, the objectives, and the guidelines to be followed are debated.

The big problem in this area of ​​action is that pollution and degradation of the environment affects all countries. And this means that, if there is no certain unanimity in the policy to be implemented, the efforts of some countries are rendered useless by the impassivity of others.

Origin of environmental policy

Environmental policy, as a global problem, emerged in the early 1970s. In 1972, in Sweden, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held. This was the first global conference held on this subject. This meeting generated the Stockholm Declaration and Plan of Action, with a total of one hundred and nine recommendations that all members should follow in order to make the human presence more sustainable.

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The United Nations Environment Program was also created at this conference. Among its objectives are setting the global environmental agenda, promoting the implementation of sustainable development and defending the environment.

At European level, also in 1972, the leaders of the Member States became aware of the need to develop a common policy in this area. This action materialized through the Single European Act of 1987.

environmental areas

The environmental areas are all those in which any environmental policy seeks to influence, so it is important to point them out.

According to the European Environment Agency, these areas are as follows:

  • Atmospheric pollution: The emission of gases into the atmosphere causes problems ranging from respiratory and dermatological diseases to the degradation of the ozone layer.
  • Biodiversity: Pollution also affects the reduction of the variety of organisms that make up the planet.
  • Chemical products: They can generate the destruction of the aquatic environment, as well as create phenomena such as acid rain.
  • Climate change: Assumes general climate change. Among its consequences, we can highlight the increase in temperature, droughts, floods and other adverse phenomena.
  • Health: Health and the environment are intimately related. A good environment reduces the occurrence of physical and mental illness.
  • I usually: The quality and regulation of the soil is also an objective of the environmental policy, whose purpose is to preserve the flora and fauna.
  • Natural resources: It is convenient that the resources are exploited in a sustainable way to extend their duration.
  • Noise: Noise pollution is also a problem, especially in large cities. It can lead to health problems, such as anxiety and stress.
  • Waste and material resources: Residues such as plastics harm the common flora and fauna. Therefore, its use is increasingly penalized.
  • Water: Around 70% of the planet is water and only 3.5% is fresh. Therefore, it is necessary to protect and preserve water suitable for human consumption.
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World environmental policy

The global environmental policy, in which the leaders of the different countries meet, is framed within the UN. In 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was created, in which 197 countries currently participate. It was created with the aim of debating and reviewing the objectives that must be set worldwide with the aim of reducing the human footprint.

The celebration of the convention is annual. Agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement have been approved in them. The objectives set in these programs, in which it refers to permitted emission, are disparate, both in their objective and in the year in which it will be carried out.

For example, China emits 27% of all polluting gases, as it has agreed to set its peak in 2030, which means an increase in emissions until that year. The European Union only emits 6.4% of the world total, and has planned to reduce its emissions in 2030 by 55% (in relation to 1990). For its part, the United States, during Trump’s term, opposed the treaty. As we can see, there is no unanimity regarding the reduction in gas emissions, which causes a clear competitive inequality between powers.

Environmental policy controversies

Although caring for the environment is a generally accepted issue, many aspects of environmental policy are strongly criticized by some sectors.

First, the disparity between countries mentioned above. It is objectionable that those who pollute the least self-impose strong restrictions against those who pollute the most. This causes strong competitive and economic inequalities.

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Another argument used is the price of cars and fuel. The electric car is very expensive compared to those that use diesel and gasoline. Therefore, the humblest people cannot afford to pay for these new cars. This protest adds to the ban on the circulation of old vehicles and diesel fuel in some cities, generating discrimination against those who can only afford these vehicles.

Also the hypocrisy that surrounds the climate summits, where world leaders arrive through private planes and with a large fleet of cars. As was the case with Joe Biden at the G-20 summit in Rome, who needed eighty-five cars to attend.

Renewable energies also generate controversy. Since they are very expensive and their ability to provide energy is very irregular. Instead, nuclear power is the cheapest, but hugely unpopular.

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