Environmental law is aimed at regulating natural resources. Given an urgency of the problem, such acts have a significant impact on owners, both large corporations and small companies. Even car-care centers are obliged to follow the rules when disposing of toxic paint. Therefore, in order to stay afloat, it is worth exploring this issue in detail.
Levels of Environmental Law
The bulk on environmental law covers several grades, including international declarations and conventions. The dominant part of such legislation is statutory in nature. Numerous governments have included “ecological points” in national constitutions.
For instance, German Bundestag has prescribed that the power must protect “natural foundations of life for the sake of the well-being of future generations”. Chinese law says that the state should take care of rational use of con-natural reserves. The South African Constitution recalls protection of rare animal species, while the Chilean Basic act contains a call for life in conditions free of pollution.
The principles of environmental law are contained in decisions of courts of any stage, as well as in arbitration verdicts. So, in 1965 the US federal appeals court annulled a license for the construction of an environmentally hazardous pumping hydroelectric station. And in 1976, the Supreme Court of California limited an ability of Los Angeles to dump water in Mono Lake.
Types of Environmental Law
Like any sphere, environmental legislation has its own sorts and characteristics. Experts name the next categories:
- Laws of command and control. They usually contain three components: identification of the type of harmful activities, an imposition of specific regulations and prohibition of activities that do not conform to established norms. The most common forms include emissions of pollutants into the environment, as well as unloading of hazardous waste, a sale of pesticides and logging.
Such acts prescribe specific threshold values for permissible impurity. Most laws focus on the balance between the use of natural resources to achieve the stated aim and the quality of the ambient. Methods of monitoring are quite diverse. For example, US laws detail the size of oil tankers and material of drip cushions to store dangerous substances.
Another type of activity that falls under the influence of canons is a harmful trade, especially with respect to representatives of the flora and fauna. If a species is labeled as one that is in danger of extinction, countries must prohibit import and export of such a “commodity”, except in special circumstances. Indicative is the ban on trading African ivory, although elephants continue to be a tempting target for poachers.
Frequently, different legislation collides. The main difference between environmental law and business one lies in the subject of negotiations. If commercial consultant prepares lease agreements, then “ecological” lawyer concentrates on water waste treatment or waste disposal. The bailiff considers issues related to the use of a foreign brand, while an environmental one assesses landfills or damage caused by pothunter. I.e. environmental law focuses exclusively on the human impact on flora and fauna.
- Ecological assessment. Environmental assessment mandates are designed to fulfill the following functions:
- determine the level of potential influence of a particular factor on the milieu
- establish objectives of an evaluation
- write down the requirements for a final verdict.
Unlike the previous category, such sanctioned activities may only indirectly protect nature by broadcasting messages about possible consequences of an action. Such steps stimulate public intervention in the development of the country's political course. Thus, the European Union requires an assessment of an impact on the construction of power stations, plants and organization of landfills for waste. They should contain a description of the effects on the soil, water, climate, terrain, and examine potential alternatives.
- Economic instruments. One of the efficient tools to increase the number of environmentalists serves financial incentives and fines. These include taxes on contamination and subsidies for the introduction of clean technologies. The Swedish government imposes charges on the release of carbon dioxide. At EU meetings, an issue of imposing duties for enterprises whose activities adversely affect the climate is discussed. In the United States, there is a practice of collecting donations to save water canals or build sewage treatment edifices.
- Set-aside schemes. In Europe, there is an extensive network of national parks and reserves, located both on a public and private territory. It would seem that laws should protect them. In fact, some international agencies advocate an abolition of the ecological value of certain grounds, explaining their desire for rational reasons.
Principles of Environmental Law
Environmental law is characterized by an existence of numerous rules formulated in the Rio Declaration of the Earth Summit in 1992. Among them are:
- The principle of preventive action. The nature protection constantly faces problems with a high level of scientific uncertainty. Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately determine consequences of an industry for the environment or a person. We cannot to accurately predict whether air pollution will lead to an increase in mortality among allergy sufferers. This canon provides that in case of serious doubts, it is better to monitor hazardous doing, rather than wait for accurate scientific data. For instance, in 1989, European countries banned the importation of beef with hormones, whereas in 1999 Australia took precautions to protect southern bluefin tuna.
- The principle of precaution. Preventing an environmental disaster is much cheaper and safer than responding to an accomplished apocalypse. This item is especially important when working with pesticides.
- The “polluter pays for everything” principle. Economists argue that a huge damage to the milieu is caused by negligence and indifference of producers. Thus, plants release unfiltered exhausts into the atmosphere or pour chemicals into the river usually pay little for waste. Instead, the costs of waste disposal are shared among all members of the community. Likewise, the driver defrays for expenses not only for gasoline and maintenance but also for the effects associated with gases. Theoretically, such measures encourage “violators” to switch to ecological products or use clean techniques.
- The principle of integration. A lot of jurisdictions and business organizations have already incorporated environmental considerations into the decision-making process through mandates for impact assessment.
- The principle of public participation. In many countries, citizens have the right to challenge authorities’ decisions affecting the ambient in the courtroom. To do this, you must ensure full access to the data.
- The principle of sustainable development presupposes economic prosperity through preservation of nature for future generations. Such an essential position proved to be a quite hard task since the analysis of sustainability depends on the duration of specific resources.
Thus, an environmental law refers to one of the branches of civil code, compulsory to respect, both by an individual and firms. Starting a business or transforming an activity, make sure that your actions do not carry a threat to the milieu. Remember that after you, other persons will come.