Government inaction on environmental problems is a serious issue worldwide, but there are countries that managed to pass environmental laws to mitigate pollution and other problems adversely affecting the natural world. It’s worth highlighting these strong legal hurdles against environmental deterioration.
Palau’s law banning fishing
Palau may be a small pacific island, but it distinguishes itself for having the biggest no-fishing zone in the world. At 500,000 square kilometers, the protected waters constitute 80% of the marine rights of the country. That’s a sacrifice not many governments would be willing to take. Only 20% of Palau’s waters are open for domestic fishing to address the republic’s food needs.
Palau’s strict fishing prohibition benefits not only its local fishers. It creates a sanctuary where fish that roam to different parts of the world can reproduce and grow. The sanctuary ensures that marine resources can recover free from the damaging intervention of fishers. It also serves as a valuable carbon sink.
All-out plastic ban in Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco, France, and Taiwan
Many cities have already implemented prohibitions against plastic use. In Hamburg, Germany, there is a partial restriction on the use of non-recyclable coffee pods. New Delhi has a comprehensive plastic ban but the rest of India apparently finds it difficult to follow suit. The war against plastics, however, has a face of optimism in a number of African countries and parts of Asia and Europe.
- In Kenya, the use of plastics was completely outlawed starting in August 2017. Those who violate this anti-plastic legislation could be jailed for up to 4 years and fined for up to $40,000.
- Rwanda, on the other hand, can claim to be a plastic-free country after it introduced a law in 2008 that banned the use of plastic bags and packaging. Upon entering border posts, vehicles are inspected for any plastic bags or packaging materials. Violators of this law can be handed a jail sentence of up to 6 months.
- Before it enforced a ban on plastics, Morocco was once the second largest consumer of plastics in the world, next only to the United States. The northwestern African country put into effect in July 2016 a ban on plastic manufacture, import, export, marketing, and use. The enforcement of the law has since led to 743,600 inspections, more than 7,500 tons of plastic seized and destroyed, and over 750 court judgments that led to fines of over $520,000.
- France implemented a ban on single-use plastic cups, plates, and cutlery in 2015. In 2019, the country is set to introduce a penalty system that would effectively raise the prices of goods that use non-recycled plastic packaging. The country aims to use only recycled plastic by 2025.
- Taiwan is also at the forefront of the war against plastics. In February 2018, the country banned the use of plastic bags, utensils, cups, and straws. The goal is to implement a blanket ban on plastics by 2030. Those caught violating the law are fined in the range of $1,800 to $9,000.
Car ban in Barcelona, Oslo, Mexico City, and New Delhi
You probably didn’t think it was possible. Who would ever impose such a policy that would anger not only car manufacturers but vehicle users as well? The answer: a number of cities. These cities don’t necessarily prohibit the use of cars across their cities, but they are setting rules that limit the use of vehicles in significant extents.
- In the capital city of Spain, Barcelona, there are designated “superblocks,” which are consecutive or contiguous blocks that have been transformed into gardens, playgrounds, or plazas. Started in April 2018, the creation of these blocks means that they are largely no longer open to vehicular traffic. If there are vehicles allowed, they are restricted to run at only 10 kph. In November 2018, another Spanish city, Madrid, implemented a similar scheme with its first car-free zone spanning 472 hectares. Spain plans to do the same in more than 100 other cities.
- In its effort to reduce greenhouse emissions, Oslo, the capital and largest city of Norway, decided to ban cars in the city center. This started in 2015 and is slated to lead to a comprehensive and permanent car ban in the city’s core by 2019. Bike lanes were created, taking over most of the car parking spots.
- Mexico City has been having a problem with extremely polluted air for over a decade. That’s why the city decided to ban all vehicles from running once every month (on a Saturday).
- New Delhi is starting to take concrete steps to improve its worsening air quality. One of these steps is the moratorium on the registration of new vehicles for a year. The city is also enforcing an odd/even strategy to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Additionally, the city requires all taxis to switch to the use of natural gas.
Global banishing on ozone layer demolishers
There’s nothing new in the ban on substances considered to be harmful to the atmosphere’s ozone layer, the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in particular. They have been prohibited since the later part of the ‘90s as a result of global consensus acknowledging the substance’s harmful effects on the ozone layer. By 2010, it is estimated that CFCs have been almost completely eradicated. The legal actions for the CFC ban stem from the Montreal Protocol which sought the drastic reduction of CFC production.
The global agreement to forbid the use of CFCs is one of the most successful environmental actions to date. The hole in the stratospheric ozone layer continues to shrink based on the most recent reports of environmental scientists.
Lithuania’s environmental power for the people
Lithuania tops the Environmental Democracy Index so it’s not that surprising that it has some of the strictest environmental laws. Most notably, it provides the public full rights to access environmental information from the government as well as the broad right to make environmental claims in court. Under the country’s Environmental Protection Law, the public is empowered to challenge government decisions deemed to be violative of environmental rights. Government authorities are obliged to proactively gather inputs from the public before laying out decisions that can significantly affect the environment.
The country also passed an amendment to its Law on Waste Water Management in 2012, which sought to bolster the management of municipal waste regulation. The highlight of this amendment dramatic increase (up to 10 times) in the compensation rates imposed on environmental damage. Additionally, Lithuania has excellent laws on wastewater treatment. As early as 2012, the country already achieved a household and industry wastewater treatment rate of 97% thanks to its Law on Drinking Water Supply and Wastewater Management.
USA’s arsenal of environmental laws
The USA may be called out for its lapses when it comes to protecting the environment, but it is still considered as one of the best countries for protecting the environment. In fact, it ranks third in the Environmental Democracy Index. This is largely because of the laws the global superpower has in place. These laws have remained after administrations changed policies.
- Clean Air Act. This air pollution control measure imposes strict limitations on emissions, fosters the protection of the ozone layer, prevents the deterioration of air quality, and requires state governments to submit plans for non-attainment areas.
- Clean Water Act. Also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, this is the first major US law intended to address water pollution. It sets rules for the elimination of discharges of pollutants and the restoration and maintenance of water systems to make them fishable and swimmable.
- Safe Drinking Water Act. As the phrase implies, this law is meant for the protection of drinking water quality in the United States. It sets standards of safety, taste, color, and odor. The law also ascertains the protection of underground water sources.
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This law imposes regulation to manage the generation, deposition, movement, treatment, and disposal of waste products. Notably, it aims to reduce the disposal of waste especially hazardous materials to land.
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act/Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (CERLA/SARA). The purpose of this law is to clean and remediate hazardous waste sites and toxic spills. It is also designed to guarantee the right of communities to information on industrial waste management practices.
Because of the relative transparency of the US government (compared to governments ruled by dictators or unchallenged ruling parties), the US government is held accountable for the enforcement of the aforementioned strong environmental protection laws. They are not perfect but they represent some of the best efforts to protect the environment.
The need for accurate information on environmental laws and compliance
Ignorance of laws excuses no one, not even foreigners or foreign businesses. Before setting up operations in another country, especially in one with the most stringent environmental protection measures, it’s important for businesses to be properly acquainted with all of the pertinent legal details. Additionally, it’s vital to complete all the compliance paperwork accurately to avoid misunderstandings or unwitting errors that can be perceived as willful attempts to violate or bypass environmental laws.
For these, a competent government translation service provider is necessary. It does not make sense relying on run-of-the-mill, inexperienced, or DIY translations when it comes to compliance matters. It’s never easy to mess with laws. The consequences can spell the end of a business even before it starts.
Allow us to help you with your environmental compliance concerns
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