4 Recent Global Policy Initiatives That Have Impacted The Environment
By Emma Sturgis
World populations are becoming more committed to reducing their carbon footprints and promoting “green” initiatives. While both regulations and enforcement vary widely from country to country, the overall picture suggests that environmental issues are now globally recognized. Here are four recent developments from around the world that give us hope for the future.
About half the Netherlands is less than three feet above sea level, with 280 miles of coastline. A rise in ocean levels due to glacial melting could have devastating effects. Protecting the coastal areas has been a high priority in its environmental awareness programs, though the cost has been estimated to a billion euros annually.
As a member of the Earth Summit of 1992, the Netherlands has been a partner in environmental issues for over 25 years. This includes promoting renewable energies and reducing greenhouse gases. The country’s ongoing National Environmental Policy Plan has had great success over the past two decades. The Resource Renewal Institute recently announced that the Netherlands had satisfied over 70 percent of its original environmental goals.
The United Kingdom
In the decades following World War II, the UK’s environmental policies were weak and slow to change even as the economy and population expanded. The result was that by 2011 the UK’s National Ecosystem Assessment announced that a significant proportion of the soil was seriously degraded for agricultural use or even as grazing land.
Fortunately, environmental awareness has been taking hold in the culture. The National Trust, a conservationist organization, grew rapidly over the post-war period from a few thousand to over 3.5 million members. It has opened chapters in countries all over the globe. UK law now requires all companies to report their carbon output, and recently launched the Green Deal initiative to help citizens find funding for energy-saving upgrades at home.
Most of the major advancements to green policy have taken place in the US. There are many green initiatives that are well under way and unlikely to fail. This includes ambitious plans for large-scale renewable power plants in Texas, Mississippi, and elsewhere.
Environmentally friendly policies and ideas have even become a part of education with an eye to launching and sustaining future initiatives. Some schools are offering advanced degrees in natural resource planning. These are designed to provide those already educated in related fields to take an interdisciplinary leadership role in innovation and management of new projects.
China has long been viewed as a chief violator of environmental policies. Two-thirds of the country now has air pollution levels at least double the safety recommendations of the World Health Organization. This is due in large part to the fact that coal remains very cheap. Politically, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has limited authority. Companies owned by the state or by high-ranking party officials seem to be immune to environmental regulations.
But China has finally been forced to recognize its pollution problems. It has invested double the amount of money that the US has in renewable technologies. It’s hoped that this will compensate for the fact that each unit of energy in China costs twice to produce what it does in the US. China is now issuing energy credit incentives to green-friendly industries, and recently announced grandiose plans for the production and sale of electric vehicles.
Environmental concerns around the globe have led to an international race to develop and leverage green technologies. If you’re particularly interested in the environment and the way green initiatives will shape the future, you could consider an online natural resources degree.
Though the US is still in the lead, other regions such as the EU and even China are gradually finding ways to narrow the gap. While doubts about our environmental future remain, progress is definitely taking place.