The green movement has a complex relationship with existing legal systems.
By its very nature as a large-scale policy movement, the green movement has always been intimately linked with politics and lawmaking. Increasingly, laws are written specifically to help the green movement’s goals of protecting and repairing the environment. In other cases, however, laws can make it more difficult to deter further environmental damage. Here are the top four ways in which laws can help or hinder the green movement and environmentalism in general.
Governing Emissions Standards
In many countries, emissions standards for both vehicles and factories are set in law. These laws can help the green movement by drastically limiting greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, but can also hinder it by being too lax to do any real good. In the latter case, lax emissions laws can almost be worse than no emissions laws as all, as they can provide a sense that something constructive is being done, even when it isn’t.
Protecting Private Property
Protections on private property are among the most interesting areas of environmental law, as whether they help or harm the green movement is entirely dependent on the situation. Private property rights may protect privately held land from being polluted by outside dumping in one case, but may also allow the property owner to litter legally. Property rights and restrictions on activity will, of course, vary by country and region.
Giving the Green Movement a Presence in the Courts
Laws regulating environmental matters have the added upside of giving the green movement a public presence in the court system. Some very dedicated environmental activists even turn their passions into their careers by studying environmental law, perhaps earning an online LLM, and becoming practicing attorneys. As helpful as this can be, however, some laws are still very much weighted against the goals of the green movement, so there is a lot that needs to be done on that account.
Helping to Protect Sensitive Public Lands
One of the areas of law that often plays heavily into the hands of the green movements is law regarding usage of public lands. In many cases, these laws heavily favor conservation. When disputes do arise, however, it can create bad press for the green movement. Cases where environmental protection stands in the way of economic development are very important, but they can generate a certain level of ill-will from the people who stand to benefit from a development project.
The green movement has a complex relationship with existing legal systems. Many laws can help activists to protect the environment, but even these can have their shortcomings. If you are an environmental activist or a supporter of the green movement, it’s useful to know exactly where current statutes stand on the issues you are most directly involved with.
Anica Oaks, the author of this article, is a freelance writer and web enthusiast.
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