Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Writer: Dila Tanırcan
When people think of the end of the world, the majority of them picture a scene that can only be seen in Mad Max, with catastrophic natural disasters and freakish creatures. But how would they feel if they knew that this “doomsday”, which the majority believes is still incredibly distant, is actually not so distant anymore? However, even with the immense increase in threats, people have failed to take action in time. Not only as individuals, but also as a community, a nation, or even the entire world; but who is to blame for this negligence?
Over the past three decades, there has been a significant increase in environmental legislation, but due to poor implementation and enforcement, they still fall well short of what is needed to address environmental issues. Environmental problems are being exacerbated by a global trend of lax enforcement. The key finding of the first-ever assessment of environmental rule of law on a worldwide scale is this. It is an undeniable fact that the legislative efforts in environmental fields have been tremendous among numerous countries; however, there is no doubt that a problem with the implementation of these laws exists. A number of factors contribute to the lack of progress in implementation and enforcement, including unclear standards or requirements that are necessary, a lack of adaptation to local and national contexts, and politically and financially underfunded implementing ministries. However, research has shown that the actual reasons why governments fail to implement are in fact not so innocent.
A recent study has demonstrated that in terms of trade in environmental goods recognized in the “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation” (APEC) and “Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development” (OECD), strong environmental policies impede trading patterns. The study revealed that environmental rules do not allow countries to trade more and indeed inhibit trade in environmental goods by analyzing the trade in two different types of goods. The findings suggest that the trade in environmental goods is extremely vulnerable to changes in environmental laws. When environmental regulations are tightened or relaxed in both the nations of origin and destination, trade flows typically decrease.
Another novel study has shown that the polluting factories of multinational corporations with headquarters in nations with stricter environmental laws are typically located in nations with laxer rules. Although nations may assume that their rules will diminish carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, the findings of this study demonstrate that these laws might cause "carbon leakage" to other countries. Although each nation's environmental laws help to some extent reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, they also have the adverse side effect of spreading pollution to surrounding nations.
These studies were a great confirmation that in order to accomplish a substantial change in climate change, nations must work in the alliance. Other than collaborating, governments need to focus more on how effective environmental rules are. Additionally, the negotiations among nations must concentrate on eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to green trade.
The war between humanity and the world has been going on for centuries, and despite the works of numerous climate change activists and policies, there is still a long way to go to switch to the winning side. The price that must be paid in order for the larger human project to succeed and for future generations to survive is not an easy one. Nevertheless, if humans don't bestir right away, they will have to give those future generations an explanation and an apology.
1. Ben-David, I. & Jang, Y. & Kleimeier, S. & Viehs, M. (2021). “Exporting pollution: Where do multinational firms emit CO2?” https://academic.oup.com/
2. Dai, Z. & Zhang, Y. & Zhang, R. (2021). “The Impact of Environmental Regulations on Trade Flows: A Focus on Environmental Goods Listed in APEC and OECD.” https://www.frontiersin.org/
3. Jin, W. (2010). “China’s green laws are useless.” China Dialogue.
4. Kluger, J. (2018). “Why We Keep Ignoring Even the Most Dire Climate Change Warnings.” TIME. https://time.com/
5. Ohio State University. (2021). “Strict environmental laws 'push' firms to pollute elsewhere.”https://www.sciencedaily.com/
6. SDG Knowledge Hub. (2019). “Environmental Laws Impeded by Lack of Enforcement, First-ever Global Assessment Finds.” https://sdg.iisd.org/
7. UN Environment Programme. (2021). “One in three countries in the world lack any legally mandated standards for outdoor air quality.” https://www.unep.org/