In the opinion of many global citizens who actively engage in progressive reforms, international law is nothing but empty political rhetoric. It is a means of the mighty to create a legitimate avenue for protecting their interests at the expense of the poor nations by creating restraints to keep under control the actions of all states comprising the international community; and it is in the wake of increasing sentiments with the legality of international law (Kibel, 13).
Perhaps, the cause of this outlook is that the international community of nations, unlike in domestic governments, lacks the appropriate legal framework to qualitatively make any laws made to the effect of critical or non-critical issues affecting its welfare binding and enforceable. Of all issues facing humanity, not a single one has been as critical and controversial like environmental conservation.
Since the advent of the modern industrial era, there has been an increasing demand for raw materials and food to feed the rapidly increasing population. The genesis of the use of fossil fuels as the primary source of energy to power industries, automobiles and in the generation of other forms of energy, coupled with an increasing strain of the other available non-renewable resources like mineral ores has continued to put extra pressure on the natural environment, and the result has been the disruption in the natural balance (Handl, et al, 17).
Global warming, species extinction and the deletion of the ozone layer among other environment related issues have exponentiated the threat facing the survival of the human as well as other species comprising life on the planet earth. It is in the wake of this rising urgency to protect the environment and maintain the sufficiency of nature to sustain the load on it that the necessity has risen to enact legislation to control the harnessing of natural resources and a re-evaluation of the activities mankind does and their impact on the environment.
On account of the diversified benefits specific individuals, organizations or countries stand to gain in the uncontrolled exploitation and utilization of natural resources, there has been a lot of conflict of interests in efforts to enact legislation and statutes to control abuses to the environment and consequently protect it from any further damage.
The problem is that this conflict of interest stands in the way of availing a comprehensive policy to safeguard the environment. Even in case where statutes have been enacted towards environmental conservation and revitalizations, their enforceability has been compromised by a number of issues, be in the national or the international level.
The tendency of international policy makers and political leaders to place international law and the political mechanism side by side has politicized the enactment of environmental law and regulation policies and bound the enactment of such regulations to the already established legal frameworks and constitutional orders (Bryant, 21). Furthermore, the process of development in its context has historically created discrepancies in the social-economic and political circumstances between nations, to be specific between the developed, the developing and the underdeveloped nations.
As a result, environmental law formulation and implementation has been more successful at the national level or in regional blocs of nations whose challenges and interests are more congruent and synchronized. In addition to this, the legal frameworks employed in the formulation of environmental law at national or regional level are more clearly defined in terms of the procedures to be followed, the limits and the degree to which they can be enforced.
Of course there are huddles and loopholes that hinder the determination of environmental law, and there are individuals, institutions or regimes that may have a clear perception and understanding of such loopholes and the interests they may have vested in environmental issues or the benefits they may reap in a situation where such laws and regulation are absent may instigate them to effectively utilize these loopholes to block efforts and initiatives geared towards legitimized environmental protection and sustainability of regenerative measures taken (Babbit, Kruchek, 45).
As a result, the existence of the above mentioned conditions and the urgency in the need to address the environmental issues, the international community through various institutions and governments has reacted by adopting very many acts through conventions and conferences to formulate policy and regulations concerning the protection of the environment. The diversity in international law regarding environmental conservation is due to the intricate nature of the issue and the diversity of the sectors under threat of deterioration (Segger, Marie, 35).
Statutes have been adapted to the effect of protecting or controlling various sub sections of the environment, including the conservation of flora and fauna, the dumping of toxic waste and the depletion of the ozone. An exponentially rising rate of global warming and desertification are consequences of climate change, and climate change is a result of continuing environmental degradation. As a result, almost all the major laws and regulations regarding environmental conservations are based upon the need to combat climate change and its effects.
Global warning is a result of increasing emission of greenhouse gases and the Kyoto protocol aimed to harmonize the efforts of the international community to cut the emission of these gases from industry and any other sources. The Kyoto protocol was primarily connected to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Kyoto protocol intended to set requisite targets binding all the thirty seven industrialized nations of the world and the European Community to reduce their levels of emission of greenhouse gases.
It set enforceable directives for the countries to set in place sufficient mechanisms to reduce the level of these emissions to an average of 5 percent, down from the averages set in the year 1990, in the five year time span from 2008 to 2012. One major improvement the Kyoto protocol had over the 1990 convention is that while the convention merely encouraged the countries concerned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto protocol made it mandatory for them to do so (Rugman, Soloway, 46).
The Kyoto protocol based its enactment on the realization that the developed world, on account of their levels of industrialization and historical factors, that is the time since the process of their industrialization began, were responsible for most of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the protocol stipulated that industrialized nations take it as their responsibility to device the necessary mechanisms to meet these targets and outlined viable alternatives towards their meeting these targets through what it called the Kyoto Market-based mechanisms.
Emission trading or the carbon market involves giving development aid to third world or developing nations and investing in these nations funds for the research and development of renewable sources of energy also called green energy sources (Spyke, 104). Clean development mechanism (CDM) outlines the importance of a systematic graduation from non-renewable sources of energy to green energy, and the conceptualization and implementation of any other systems or mechanisms aimed at reversing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions or compensating for any continuing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Joint implementation advocates for partnerships in efforts geared towards minimizing emissions. Since its inception, the European Union through its Directorate General’s office based in Brussels has initiated and defined new laws to make sure that adequate legislation is established in all its member countries and that their implementation is adequately sufficient.
This was based on the realization that the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens can be greatly improved if the environment is adequately protected, and the environment can only be adequately protected if all member states implement to the letter all the relevant legislative orders they are signatory to. This office acts as the guardian of such treaties and ensures comprehensive implementation of such treaties is followed by the relevant national institutions failure to which the commission has the mandate to initiate infringement procedures. Global warming has been also a result of the depletion of the ozone layer.
The Vienna convention held in Austria in 1986 was convened with the realization that human health as well as the well being of all flora and fauna was under threat due to the harm caused by the modification in the structure of the ozone layer. All parties, after due consideration of the situation were obliged under the provision of the Vienna convention and any other protocols pursuant to this to protect human, all life and the natural environment from the negative effects that are made possible by the damage of the ozone layer by controlling all human activities that are the causes of this depletion (Handl, Sands, 28).
It was mutually accepted that all signatories should work together through systematic monitoring and cognitive research and information interchange so that there is a better understanding of the ozone layer and the impact of its modifications. To achieve this, it was deemed very important to enact the relevant legislation and entrench any other administrative frameworks so that here can be sufficient co-operation by all stakeholders and harmonization in the policy formulation towards controlling and inhibiting the activities that directly or indirectly contribute to the depletion and modification of the ozone layer.
The other serious threat undermining environmental integrity is the use of industrial materials yielding toxic by-products and the subsequent disposal of these hazardous wastes. There have been concerns over the diversion of harmful industrial affluent into the aquamarine network and the dumping of other toxic substances in impoverished nations (Bryant, 51). This is often a problem in unstable or anarchic nations and is often done with the help of illegitimate criminal gangs or corrupt regimes.
This problem was addressed by the Basel Convention, which came into operation in 1992. Central to this convention was the need for sound management systems that took into consideration environmental conservation. The ultimate objective of the Basel convention was to protect the quality of human life by ensuring healthy living through the minimization of hazardous waste. It outlined steps to strongly control the generation of toxic by-products in the industrial process and the storage, recycling and eventual disposal of such substances.
As a result of the Basel Convention, there has been a demonstration in the industrial sector of application of methods of production that are cleaner and therefore more environmentally friendly. In Qatar, the organization that spearheads the maintenance of the delicate balance existing between environmental sustainability and profitable natural resource utilization is the SCENR. Chaired by the heir apparent to the throne, SCENR concentrates on continually improving productivity through capacity building and natural resource development in an environmentally friendly way (Babbit,Kruchek, 49).
SCENR has a direct mandate to issue policy geared towards environmental protection and prepares the guidelines and timetables for the implementation of such policies. Not only does SCENR have a responsibility to create environmental awareness, it is also mandated to constantly survey all activities that directly connect to the environment and identify any situations that may lead to pollution.
It is this organization that represents Qatar in all regional and international conferences and conventions relating to the environment. Qatar has achieved milestones when it comes to enacting environmental laws. In 2006, Law number five was enacted that sought to regulate the trade in endangered species or their products to assist in species conservation. This law came as a follow up to law number 32 enacted a year earlier in 2005 that made the damage to flora (plant life) or any of its constituents a criminal offence.
In 2004, a legislative order had been established to actively protect all wildlife and natural resources existing within the borders of the country. Other environmental laws include law number 30 (2002) that guarantees the environment legal protection, law number 4 (2002) that regulates hunting of animal species either for food or as a sport, law number 31 (2002) that protects human life and all flora and fauna from the harmful effects of radiation emanating from radioactive sources (Handl, Sands, 69).
In 1993, the legal framework containing guidelines for the harnessing and protection of all aquatic ecosystems and resources was established. The environmental challenges facing Qatar are exponentially increasing rates of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from industrial cities and automobiles, development of infrastructure that leads to dredging and reclamation of land claimed by wildlife and beaches and the discharge of industrial affluent into the seas.
There has been, as a result of the oil mining industry, periodical spills of oil that pollutes marine ecosystems and; on account of global warming and desertification, a loss in biodiversity and natural habitats for both plants and animals (Spyke, 110). In conclusion, it has become very necessary for states and international institutions to approach the environmental issue with urgency and strategy.
In some cases, a compromise will have to be made and persuasion applied to trade off on account of conserving the environment on one part and maintaining positive economic growth rates on the other end. Environmental legislation should be timely and enforceable, but the most important thing is that the society, from the individual, his or her immediate society and the state see the gravity of the consequences of environmental change and fully embrace all initiatives taken towards conservation, whether entrenched into the national or international legal framework or not.
Work Cited Babbit Charles & Kruchek Beth. Discretion and the Criminalization of Environmental Law. Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Vol. 15, 2008, pp. 43-57 Bryant Barbara. Twyford Down: Roads, Campaigning, and Environmental Law, New York, E & EN Spon, 1996 Handl Gunther & Sands Philippe. Yearbook of International Environmental Law-Vol. 7. New York, Clarendon Press, 1998 Handl Gunther, et al. Yearbook of International Environmental Law-Vol.
4, New York, Clarendon Press, 1994 Kibel Paul. The Erath on Trial: Environmental Law on the International Stage, London: Routledge, 1999 Rugman Alan & Soloway Julie. Environmental Regulations and Corporate Strategy: A NAFTA Perspective, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999 Segger Marie. Sustainable Justice: Reconciling Economic, Social and Environmental Law, New York: Martinus Nijhoff, 2005 Spyke Nancy. The Land Use-Environmental Law Distinction: A Geo-Feminists Critique. Duke