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Global Regulatory Regime for Environment

Introduction:

The environment surrounding us is precious and of high importance for every individual, yet people and processes are causes of the highest amount of harm to the environment.As the areas surrounding us get filled up with waste, chemicals, noise, pollution, and other harmful gases, it becomes increasingly difficult to live in such areas.Moreover, these areas lose their natural beauty.

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Harmful chemicals, pollution, and the inappropriate disposal of waste material also causes severe harm to the forestry and the trees surrounding an area and leads to the reduction of clean air or oxygen prevalent in the area. Thus, people and other living things must succumb to breathing in carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Such polluted environments are not only harmful to the betterment of the planet but are also highly toxic for human beings, animals, plants, and all living organisms. Thus, substantially reducing the quality of life for living things and their prospects for leading a healthy life (Gerlagh & Mathys, 2011).

While much of the pollution and harm to the environment is caused by individuals during the course of living in their own homes through the use of toxic chemicals such as body sprays, hair sprays, cooking oils, the use of their cars, inappropriate disposal of waste and lack of recycling; a large amount of harm to the environment is caused by businesses and industries. Businesses adopt processes of production and research and development which may lead to the accumulation of high amounts of waste material, release of toxic chemicals, inappropriate disposal of recyclable material, and large emissions of smoke and pollution from factory areas amongst many other forms of harming the environment. (Fredrikson,1995).

Businesses, in the process of mass production, are likely to harm the environment in substantial ways besides the smoke and pollution emissions from factory areas. Other common ways of bringing harm to the environment include using non-renewable resources in production without proper planning and control. Cutting down trees to build industrial and shopping areas is also another form of harm to the environment. Businesses and industries may also use parts of endangered species in order to facilitate their production process or as an input into their products. Animal testing is also a common method used by businesses which often gives rise to substantial levels of criticism. However, many or most of these effects are necessary or inevitable when businesses indulge in production and research processes. (Antweiker et al, 2001). Yet, many can be controlled to a large extent. However, businesses are unwilling to put in that extra amount of effort and money to ensure that their processes and the materials they use are environmentally-friendly (Grieg et al, 2005).

Corporate Social Responsibility:

Corporate social responsibility is another highly popular business practice that many businesses now aim to implement either to fulfill their own personal vision regarding the type of impact they should have on the environment or because they want to ensure that their reputation remains clean and high in the eyes of their consumers. Often, applying socially responsible techniques leads to higher levels of investment or cost as close consideration must be made when choosing appropriate materials, applying appropriate processes, and implementing other supervisory and control procedures. However, many consumers and the media, especially in developed countries, demand that organizations act in an ethically acceptable and socially responsible manner. This includes caring for the environment and ensuring that their business processes do not cause excessive harm to the environment. This is often done by controlling the amount of emissions coming from a factory, controlling the types of inputs that are put into products, using recyclable material and encouraging recycling, helping the preservation of endangered species and refraining from using animal testing, and implementing an appropriate waste disposal procedure amongst innumerous other actions (Landes, 1998).

However, while corporate social responsibility practices may be a norm in developed countries, they may be considered a luxury in the Third World. With many other problems plaguing the people of such countries, there is no control over the manner in which the environment is harmed in Third World countries. Waste is often disposed of outside factory gates or in empty land sites in residential areas without considering the filth and diseases that such waste material contains for the people living in nearby areas. Water and air is highly polluted in industrial and factory areas as business owners are mainly concerned with their own profit and are not concerned about the well-being of people surrounding that area. There are no regulations or control on such practices which force individuals living in such countries to live sub-standard or low quality lives. The amount of noise pollution caused by businesses is highly negligible as that is only the beginning of the environmental problems prevalent in these countries (Toffel et al, 1998). Oil spills and highly dangerous chemicals are often found in areas around factories and in other landfills which are often a cause for death to people or children who are found in those areas. Recycling is not highly practiced in organizations in Third World countries and there is no regard for the proper use of non-renewable resources (Bierman, 2003).

Global Regulatory Policies:

There is a very strong need for proper regulation in order to control the manner in which businesses and industries affect the environment around them and the manner in which they dispose of their waste materials. This is a prevailing problem in many parts of the world and is also an existing problem in developed countries. There are still many businesses who have not succumbed to following appropriate environmentally friendly practices. Depletion of the ozone layer, losing the fertility of soil, and permanently polluting the environment with antioxidants are just some of the highly harmful effects that can exist because of the malpractices that businesses engage in. In order to prevent the occurrence of such effects, there needs to be a proper regulation system in place. As the problem of harm to the environment is a global issue as it is highly important for the whole planet to remain free from harm, there may be a need for a global regulatory regime or policy to govern the environmental practices of businesses (Cassesse, 2010).

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Global regulatory policies are often used to govern other aspects of human existence such as the relationship between countries, human rights, trade, and other such areas which involve practices worldwide. Global regulatory regimes are often made with a consensus of all the countries involved and require the assent of their leaders to implement such policies within their own country. Different countries are likely to have different policies regarding environmental control, and have their own set of laws which govern their particular borders regarding how to prevent environmental damage. However, there have been occurrences of international treaties in which numerous countries participated in order to mutually attempt to bring benefit to the environment (Abbott, 2012).

Previous Environmental Laws:

Law governing the environmental aspect of society is known as environmental law. Many such laws have been passed in the United States in the past such as the National Environmental Policy (1969), the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973). The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 aimed to ensure that all activities whether federal or private must be assessed and evaluated on the pretense of their effect upon the environment and their subsequent influence upon the surroundings around them. This meant that any project in the United States excluding those performed by the President or Congress were to be assessed to ensure that they did not cause immense harm to the environment. This act was implemented when concerns for the environment began to increase and people became more conscious of the effects that their actions caused upon the environment. The Clean Air act of 1970 aimed to ensure that the air remained clean and emissions and the release of gases was controlled in order to prevent toxic emissions or the release of a high amount of antioxidants Industries and factories were given permits in order to control the amount of emissions they could release and they were heavily penalized if they exceeded the specified amount of emissions allowed to them. There were also days on which emissions were not allowed from factories and businesses were made to seize production in order to let the air remain clean for specific periods of time (Avant et al, 2010).

While the above mentioned laws were specific to the United States, there have been laws which governed the whole world at large. Some of these laws are known as customary laws and have become such common practice that it is considered necessary for all countries to be bound by them. These laws are often upheld by authorities such as the United Nations. Such laws are usually laid out after world conferences in the United Nations and examples include the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, World Commission on Environment and Development, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Protocols are also made between countries which are subsidiary agreements made from the main treaty. These smaller agreements govern certain aspects of the main agreement and put forward additional requirements that must be followed in addition to the main agreement. Some of the most popular protocols include the Kyota Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Bierman & Bernd, 2009).

Accordingly, many international organizations are also made which seek to implement such environmental goals of which some of the most popular ones include International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Hence, there are many platforms for making international laws and global regulatory regimes in order to promote the environmental cause. Moreover, such actions have been taken before and there are many laws in place governing such issues. (Keohane, 2010).

Benefits and Prospects of Adopting a Global Regulatory Regime:

Hence, the prospects of adopting a global regulatory regime are quite high as many countries are now mutually concerned regarding the environment and the effects that businesses and industries have upon their countries. Moreover, due to high awareness levels and a lot of media coverage, individuals, businesses, and specifically multinational organizations seek to focus upon the implementation of safe and fair practices for the environment and seek help and support in this regard. There are organizations and international committees which work for this cause and serve as a platform to bring many countries of the world together to discuss important issues Accordingly, as it is often said that brainstorming and consultation can lead to better solutions, the adoption of a global regulatory regime allows the leaders and prominent personalities of the world to mutually decide what is beneficial for their country and the world at large (Keohane, 1984).

As the whole planet technically belongs to all individuals and the actions of one country are likely to affect the whole planet, it is also important for there to be a mutual consensus regarding the practices prevalent in different countries across the globe. For example, the USA’s excessive use of aerosol sprays has depleted the ozone layer and this has eventually affected global warming in the whole world. In the same manner, the excess of pollution in the air and other toxic chemicals affect processes such as rain, global warming, and the prevalence of clean water for multiple countries who share borders and water facilities through the use of rivers. Hence, while one country may adopt principles to govern the environmental aspect in their own country, they may not be completely aware of the effect that practices in their own country are having upon other countries and vice versa. Thus, it may be more beneficial to discuss these problems together and on a global platform in order to come up with mutually feasible solutions (Scott, 1998).

Accordingly, the feasibility and previous implementation of a global regulatory regime for the environment may be high, yet it is a highly difficult procedure and program to successfully implement and ensure that it is abided by. Thus, there may be several problems associated with the adoption of a global regulatory regime and the attempt to implement it in all countries of the world (Wilson, 1991).

Problems with the Adoption of a Global Regulatory Regime:

One of the most troubling problems of adopting a global regulatory regime or attempting to implement it is the setting up of an authority to ensure implementation and supervise the regime. It is literally impossible for a regulatory committee to be physically present in all parts of all countries governed by the regime, thus it becomes nearly impossible for such committees to supervise and check whether the laws governing this regime are followed in all parts of all countries. Accordingly, it is not possible or easy to maintain a proper check and balance on the laws governing this global regime and it is not possible to detect offenders easily. If there is no proper way to uphold the regulations in the regime, the regime is likely to be highly ineffective (Wilson, 1991).

Moreover, there needs to be a proper way to punish countries which do not follow the regime properly and do not uphold the laws described in it. It may be highly difficult to decide upon a punishment for such countries and even more difficult to implement such a punishment. It may also be easy for countries with higher levels of influence to avoid punishment. Another very tantalizing aspect is to decide upon the judiciary who will preside over such cases and maintain a fair and balanced system. This is highly difficult to implement on a global scale (Sim & Teoh, 1997).

The costs associated with implementing the system and maintaining a committee for check and balance purposes will be quite high and may be considered unnecessary by many countries. This may also be considered a waste of time and effort by many world leaders and it is highly difficult to arrive at a mutually agreed upon decision. Moreover, the drafting of policies governing the global regulatory regime is likely to be a highly rigorous process which is likely to take a lot of contemplation, argument, and debate. There are not likely to be many occasions on which all countries agree or cooperate and such procedures cannot be forced upon countries which do not agree. Treaties are made by mutual consent and obtaining mutual consent is likely to be the major problem prevailing in the implementation of such policies (Feigener, 1997).

Many countries argue and debate for long periods of time concerning the applicability of customary laws towards themselves. Many countries want to be free from having to abide by such laws and put up issues in United Nations meetings. Hence, if the application of customary laws becomes a matter of debate, the adoption of a global regulatory regime is likely to become a matter of intense or perhaps never-ending debate (Sadiq & Governortori, 2010).

There are costs associated with the implementation of environmental controls and these costs are likely to be high. Hence, all countries may not be willing to implement these costs within their respective country as it may be burdening upon their budget and they may have other concerns for which to allocate their national budget to. Due to the associated costs, many countries refrain from indulging in environmentally friendly practices and this includes countries such as the United States of America. Moreover, many world leaders may consider these extra costs to be unnecessary and burdensome for the economy. It will obviously take extra expenditure on the part of each country separately in order to ensure that regulatory practices are implemented within their own country. Hence, many leaders consider this to be unnecessary expenditure and do not express their consent to indulge in such excessive expenditure.

One of the most important reasons for the difficulty in adopting a global environmental regulatory regime is that the circumstances of all countries are different. While the citizens of some countries are educated and aware of the need for an environmental cause, the citizens of other countries are not aware of such problems and have other bigger problem plaguing their nation. Moreover, while some developed countries have the resources and equipment needed to implement environmental controls, other poorer nations of the world completely lack such facilities and cannot support such regimes.

Environmental problems affecting different countries are also of diverse natures but it is widely known that developing countries require even more regulatory controls than developed nations as the atmosphere in their countries is highly dangerous for the citizens of the country and leads to many deaths annually. Moreover, awareness programs and other initiatives are required in such countries in order to at least make the situation satisfactory if not excellent. However, these goals and others concerning the environment seem to be a long way away from being fully achieved (Baumgartner & Winter, 2013).

Conclusion and Recommendations:

While it is not easy to adopt a global regulatory regime, countries can hold annual conferences in order to discuss environmental issues and attempt to mutually solve the environmental concerns arising (Nielson & Jensen, 2013). Countries who do agree upon implementation of environmental controls can sign treaties and agreements in order to make the implementation of such procedures official. They can also attempt to have talks with the leaders of other countries and provide support for the successful implementation of environmental controls and regulatory regimes in these countries. Support can be through manpower, delegations, or financial aid in order to help other countries conform to the laws governing environmental concerns. However, countries who do not agree upon the implementation of such controls cannot be forced to consider them (Henri & Jornalt, 2010).

Serious offenders or countries which are severely damaging the environment can be reprimanded through boycotts from other countries, cutting off of trade, foreign aid, or through other means. However, it is necessary to consider the country’s circumstances before such severe consequences are applied and talks should be carried out in order to solve such issues (Fuerist & Mcallister, 2011).

Hence, a global regulatory regime can be applied towards some countries of the world but is extremely difficult to apply on all countries of the world and can be considered impossible to some extent.[1] However, there are manners in which countries can take initiatives as a combined body to help the environmental cause and promote the campaign against environmental harm caused by industries and businesses worldwide (Tessitore et al, 2010).

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