Politics, Environment, and Sustainability

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Nov 9, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Politics, Environment, and Sustainability

By: Claire
Bejgrowicz
, Emily Peters,
Hina

Afridi

and Kristen
Hegedus

A Woman Happily
R
owing

Government’s Impact on the
Environment


P
revent companies from
getting

involved
in environmentally harmful activities


Excessive involvement can destroy
business enterprise and innovation


Not enough involvement could lead to
social injustices and environmental
degradation

Free Enterprise


Free Enterprise
: Change that leads to new
technologies, products, and opportunities
for profits


Pro: Leads to higher living standards


Con: Creates harmful impacts on other
people and on the environment


“Government is the best mechanism for dealing
with some of the broader economic and political
issues”


Full
-
Cost Pricing
: Governments can create
subsidies and levy taxes to require inclusion
of harmful environmental and health costs in
the market prices of some goods and services


Market Failures
: Government can create
subsidies and levy taxes to ensure equality
amongst all businesses


Tragedy of the Commons
: Government
controls the preservation of common access
renewable resources

Policy Life Cycle


Recognition: Identify a problem


Formulation: Identify specific causes of
the problem and develop a solution


Implementation: Put the solution into
effect


Control: Monitor progress and make
adaptations as needed


Evaluated according to feedback from
market or environment

Environmental Policy Making
Principles


Humanity Principle: Human impact on the
environment is limited.


Reversibility Principle: Avoid irreversible
actions.


Precautionary Principle: Precautionary
measures should be taken with any
potentially
threatening factors.


Net Energy Principle: Avoid widespread use of
energy alternatives with low net energy yields.


Prevention Principle: Make decisions that
prevent a problem from becoming worse.


Environmental Policy Making
Principles


Polluter
-
Pay Principle: Polluters should have to
pay for the pollution and wastes they produce
through taxes and regulations.


Public Access and Participation Principle: Citizens
should have access to environmental data and be
able to participate in environmental policies.


Human Rights Principle: All humans have the
right to live in an environment that doesn't

t harm
their health.


Environmental Justice Principle: Policies should
be created in a way that no one has to be
burdened by pollution or environmental
degradation.

Environmental Leaders’
Influence


Lead by Example: Use our own values
and practices as an example for others.


Work with the Current
E
conomic and
P
olitical
S
ystems: Vote for eco
-
friendly
officials.


Local Office: Those running can introduce
eco
-
friendly policies.


Solutions to Environmental Problems:
Citizens can introduce eco
-
friendly ideas
as well.

Environmental Policy


Statutory Laws
: Those that are developed
and passed by legislative bodies i.e. federal
and state governments


Administrative Laws
: Those that consist of
administrative rules and regulations,
executive orders, and enforcement decisions
related to implementation and interpretation
of statutory law


Common Law
: Unwritten rules and principles
based on widely accepted norms within a
society

Environmental Policy


Most environmental lawsuits are civil suits


Plaintiff v. Defendant


Individuals settling a dispute between one another


Class Action
S
uits
: Civil suits filed by groups on
behalf of a large number of people who have
experienced the same damages


Suits are often filed for nuisance or negligence


Nuisance: One’s property causes harm or annoyance
to another


Negligence: Damage is caused purposefully, illegally,
and unreasonably

Difficulties in Winning

Environmental Lawsuits


Lawsuits are difficult to establish


Plaintiffs may struggle to come up with legal
standing, which is necessary to proceed


Lawsuits can be very expensive, especially when
they involve major environmental issues


In many cases, expenses for lawsuits (such as
attorney fees) cannot be paid for by public
interest law firms


Large companies can count legal fees as tax
deductions, effectively gaining a subsidy for their
lawsuit expenses


This makes it very difficult for ordinary people to
file a claim against large corporations

Difficulties in Winning

Environmental Lawsuits


Establishing evidence against the
defendant can be difficult and expensive
because of the research that may be
required


Ex: Plaintiff claims a company dumps
chemicals into the river where the plaintiff’s
water comes from which caused them to get
cancer


Statutes of Limitation limit plaintiff’s right
to sue a particular amount of time after
an event has occurred

Difficulties in Winning

Environmental Lawsuits


Court decisions can take years to make a
decision; in this time there can be
continual damage unless the court is able
to issue them an injunction to stop the
action temporarily


SLAPPs

SLAPPs



Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation


Corporations can file SLAPPs against citizens
who publicly criticize a business for some
activity


Can range from $100,000 to $100 million and
usually last for 3 years before they can be won
or dismissed


Corporations use SLAPPs to intimidate
individuals and activist groups


Often, groups will stop protests and avoid opposing
the corporations in order to avoid SLAPPs

Reforming the Legal Field for
Environmental Lawsuits


Pressure Congress to pass a law that allows
judges and juries to award citizens their
attorney fees to be paid by the defendants, in
successful lawsuits


Establish rules and procedures for
identifying frivolous SLAPP suits to allow
cases without factual and legal merit to be
dismissed quickly


Raise fines for violators of environmental
laws and punish more violators with jail
sentencing

Types of Environmental

Laws in the United States


Standards for pollution levels


Clean Air Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act


Screening new substances for safety


Toxic Substances Control Act


Encourage resource conservation


Research Conservation and Recovery Act, National
Energy Act


Protect and conserve species, resources, and
ecosystems


Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act


Evaluate environmental impact of activities


National Environmental Policy Act

National Environmental Policy
Act


Requires an environmental impact
statement (EIS) to be made for every
major federal project that is likely to affect
the environment


EIS must describe:


Why the project is needed


I
ts short and long term beneficial and
harmful environmental impacts


Ways to lessen the harmful impacts


Evaluation the alternatives to the project

Major Roles of Environmental
Groups


Nonprofit Nongovernment
O
rganizations
(NGOs) have largest influence



Examples of NGOs


WWF


Greenpeace


The Nature Conservancy


Role:


Expose corruption


Monitor government agencies


Collaborate with private sector

U.S. Environmental Groups


Mostly grassroots organizations


Emerging citizen based global
sustainability movement


Work done with individual communities


Use of nonviolent tactics to get publicity


Protest marches


Tree sitting


College campuses are other large source
of change

Global Outlook: Children in Turin, Italy,
Protesting High Levels of Air Pollution

Improving Global
Environmental Security


Correlation between scarcity of
resources(cropland, water, food) and
spread of civil violence


Civil war


Breading of terrorism


Warlords, chieftains, religious leaders gain
control


Failing of state/government


Argument for environmental security first;
military and economic security will follow


Influencing Global
Environmental
P
olicy Change


International conferences


UN


Priv
ate sector influence


Eco
-
efficiency


Finding ways to create economic value with less
environmental impact


Green Planning


Green Planning: The creation of long
-
term
environmental management strategies
with the ultimate goal of achieving greater
environmental and economic
sustainability and a high quality of life for
a country’s citizens

Green Planning


Benefits


Often reduces costs and increases profits


By controlling investments, there’s less
financial risk


Process


Identify areas for improvement


Form target group that develops a voluntary
agreement on establishing targets and
timetables for drastically reducing pollution


Themes for Target Groups


Implement life
-
cycle management


Improve energy efficiency


Invent more environmentally sustainable
technologies


Improve public awareness


Michelle Pushes Environmental
Education