What Is International Environmental Law?

You may well have heard about International Environmental Law but there is a good chance that you did not know just how much of a broad term that actually is. International Environmental Law covers many areas of the environment and is essentially designed to protect and improve the environment as a whole.

Before we take you through International Environmental Law, you should first understand environmental law as a whole. In a nutshell, environmental law in the UK is the set of laws that have been created by the government to protect the environment. As citizens, businesses and industries, we are bound to these laws and will face varying punishments if we are found to be breaking them.

Main Avenues of Environmental Law

Environmental laws are not only created at a local and national level in the UK but also at European Community level and international level too.

  • Domestic Environmental Law

Domestic environmental laws are legislation that would have been passed at UK level with punishments being given out ranging from magistrates’ courts to supreme courts.

  • EC Environmental Law

EC environmental laws are legislation that has been passed at the European Union level and are more focused on more technical issues such as trading emissions.

  • International Environmental Law

It is understandable that as climate change and other environmental matters are being witnessed on a global scale, countries should have to come together to tackle them. International conventions have been created that, should countries agree to be a part of, would make them culpable if they were shown to be failing under the terms of the agreement.

Main Areas of Environmental Law

There are numerous areas of the environment that need protecting and this is why local, national and International Environmental Laws have been passed. Air pollution, climate change and waste management are just a few areas that will be governed by their own laws and you can find more information about all of them below.

  • Air Quality

Air pollution is one of the biggest areas of environmental law simply because it directly affects the health of billions of people around the globe. Pollution from vehicles, factories and power plants can cause various health conditions including lung cancer, respiratory diseases and heart failure.

  • Climate Change

Climate change is another of the more commonly known areas of environmental law. Human activity has been the biggest cause of climate change and as a result, we have seen major shifts in the climate that has led to things such as melting ice caps and more extreme weather patterns emerging.

  • Contaminated Land

In the UK alone, it has been estimated that 300,000 hectares of land have been contaminated by pollution. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities are required to remedy any cases of contaminated land under their jurisdiction.

  • Environmental Permitting

Under this area of environmental law, commercial and industrial entities are awarded and given environmental permits that carry a number of stipulations and requirements. Breaching any of these requirements or stipulations could lead to the removal of these permits and even criminal prosecution.

  • Waste Management

Another important area of environmental law is that of waste management. In the past, we would send all of our waste to a landfill but modern laws and regulations have seen our waste management to improve by adding other methods such as recycling and waste treatment.

  • Water Pollution

Environmental laws are also in place to oversee a range of issues to do with the quality of our water in the UK. Whether tap water, lakes, rivers, streams, fisheries or marine life, water pollution laws will be in place to try and protect them.

  • Nature Conservation

When it comes to the protection of nature in the UK, the nature conservation laws have been created to provide it. All types of wildlife but specifically any species that is under threat of extinction is protected by these laws.

  • Environment Assessment

Any planned developments, plans or programmes will be subject to an environmental assessment. This assessment will determine how big an impact an application may have on the environment before an application is granted.

As you can see, there are so many different important areas of our environment that need help to be protected. Environmental laws are slowly starting to reduce the damage we have been doing to our environment but there is still so much more that could and should be done and it starts right at home with all of us.

The more of us that can educate, bring awareness to and promote positive action when it comes to the environment the better. Action needs to be taken on a global scale and while awareness has improved over the years, we are still doing far too much damage to our planet.