The Mechanisms For Preventing Climate Change International Law Essay

Environmental law is a body that implements a number of complex and interlocking statutes, common law, treaties, conventions, regulations and policies which regulates the laws to attain environmental objectives. Environmental Law is a multifaceted body of law made up of international, global treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations and policies which try to protect the environment and natural resources exaggerated and endangered by human activities. [1] International law has played an important part in protecting the universal environment. To deal with these problems of climate change, global warming and all other environmental problems so many international treaties, protocols and conventions have been enacted. But this problem of ongoing environmental degradation is so worse that international law has proved to be an unproductive instrument for shielding the global environment. [2] 

From the period of 1970’s a considerable figure of organizations which are combating to make a distinction and transform the course we are going in destroying our natural environment. [3] Developing policies and laws concerning human society has become imperative in the growth of environmental issues. [4] But the harm that is caused to the environment is so much that all the policies that are increasing well-suited fiscal and environmental strategies remain immature. The international law of protecting the human-environment appears of no consequence to the majority of individuals when compared with the importance of protecting financial health. [5] 

Among so many areas of environment law one is climate change. In this coursework the issues and international laws relating to global warming and climate change will be discussed thoroughly to reach the problems and solutions regarding the problem of environment degradation. Environmental harms reveal how defenseless we are to deal with the situation. It should be very clear to all countries that though there are boundaries between their jurisdiction and access but the earth where they are living is a single biosphere and the problems in part of the earth are going to have same consequences for those living in other parts of the earth. [6] 

The environmental problem is a enormous mounting concern. [7] Human actions have caused the worsening of the natural environment and the destruction of numerous species. The pollutants that are discharged by human activities are a danger to every living creature on the earth. The impending to cause grave environment changes and diminish our possessions may change the social order. [8] Understanding this wicked consequence international organizations, non- governmental organizations and common citizens all-inclusive are connecting ecological safety to human safety, national and international security. The international society have already moved forward to tackle the matter and different measures in the form of laws have been taken to guard the atmosphere. [9] 


“Global warming is a propensity in which there is an increase in earth’s surface temperature which is caused by excess greenhouse gas emissions. [10] The phenomenon of this dilemma is the change of global climate, the melting of ice cap and the increase in sea level. A research organization reported that “in the 20th century the average global surface temperature has increased by 0.6±0.2℃ and the average sea level has risen by 0.1 to 0.2 mt." [11] 

“Climate change refers to changes in the earth’s climate over the last hundred years. Some of these changes are a result of natural causes but the outcome of man-made green house gases are most accountable for current changes in the global temperature. [12] Climate change can cause extreme weather conditions, including hotter summers and colder winters. [13] 


The predicament of environment or climate change is common for all the countries and requires a common approach by all countries to handle this worse condition. [14] “The United Nations Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen, December 2009 " was a an imperative stride to disembark at a determined legally binding international agreement to reduce the global emissions after 2012 as set out in the previous agreement known as “The Kyoto Protocol." To undertake the dilemma of climate change an assortment of intercontinental laws and agreements has been settled. [15] 

The main international laws or agreements to protect the universe fro environment degradation are:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 1984 [16] 

The Convention was a non binding obligation on developed countries to stabilize their greenhouse gas concentrations and reduce their green house gas emissions. [17] The Convention came into force on March 21, 1984 was ratified by 191 countries. The Convention permitted for prospect amendments and additions over time as it was a "framework" document. It was the first adding up to the Convention known as “the Kyoto Protocol" which was adopted in 1997 and was implemented in February 2005.

Kyoto Protocol 1997

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 1984 [18] was not binding on the countries but the The Kyoto Protocol [19] is legally binding agreement upon the countries to reduce greenhouse emissions by standard of 5% below 1990 levels over a 5 year period of 2008 to 2012 as compared to the UNFCCC. The binding obligations are based on the principle "common but differentiated responsibilities" which takes into account the differences in the contributions of developed and developing countries to global environmental problems. [20] The Kyoto Protocol is seen as an important first step towards a truly global emission reduction regime and sets a strong basis for future international agreements on climate change. [21] Due to over 150 years of industrial activities the developed countries are mainly responsible for the current levels of man-made emissions as per the both the agreements.

It has been intended that when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012, a new international framework will be developed to bring greater emissions reductions as recommended by the International Panel on Climate Change. More detailed rules to execute the Kyoto Protocol were adopted at the Conference of Parties 7 (COP 7) Marrakesh in 2001. These rules are known as the “Marrakesh Accords" and provide directions on how parties can meet their responsibilities. The one way in which the steps can be taken to reduce the adverse effect over climate are that the National governments can introduce controls and best technologies that promote energy efficiency.

The Bali Road Map 2007

In December 2007, the member countries to both the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol met in Bali and set out a road map for the formulation of a new climate agreement by the end of 2009. [22] The Bali Road Map addresses important issues including tackling deforestation and sets out further measures on climate change. It also provided a forum for countries to share experiences and exchange ideas on national policies on climate change. Four major UNFCCC meetings to implement the Bali Road Map took place in 2008, followed by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland in December 2008. The conference addressed ongoing issues for the full implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol including capacity building for developing countries. It progressed work and agreed a plan of action for developing a new climate agreement that could be adopted in 2009 in Denmark. Five negotiating sessions took place in 2009 in the lead up to the conference at Copenhagen. [23] 

Copenhagen Accord, December 2009

The Copenhagen Accord [24] is a voluntary agreement not legally binding that was agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 to take action in order to stop the average global temperature rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The Accord also provides for funding to help poorer countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. [25] It depends upon the nations only that how much efforts they will put to set out the emissions cuts or other things that they will do to tackle climate change. The Accord does not give targets or actions for each country for this purpose..

In the case of Anthony & Ors v Coal Authority [26] Air pollution was caused by a fire from a coal tip at the old Brynlliw colliery in Swansea. The Coal Authority acquired responsibility for a disused tip at the old Brynlliw colliery and sold it as open land to a group of commoners. In 1996, fire broke out at the tip. The fire burned for more than three years, resulting in clouds of smoke and fumes. The M4 motorway closed down on several occasions due to poor visibility. Before the fire was finally put out by Swansea council, it made life unbearable for the local residents. One villager told the BBC, “The smoke often fell on the village like a blanket and you couldn't see a thing. The smell was awful."

The local residents went to court and claimed for nuisance caused to them due to loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes. Some of them suffered breathing difficulties as a result of the fumes and smoke. The Coal Authority argued that at the time the tip was sold, there was little risk of it becoming a fire hazard and that they had taken reasonable steps to prevent a spontaneous fire outbreak. The court dismissed the Coal Authority's arguments and found it liable in private nuisance and change in climatic conditions. [27] 

European Law on Climate Change

The EC played a major role in the development of the binding Kyoto emissions reduction targets and took the lead in trying to secure an ambitious new climate agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009The European Community [28] (EC) is at the top position of international programme on climate change. Both the European Community and its members are parties to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.. The EC is also a signatory to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and has implemented Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 as amended which prohibits substances that deplete the Ozone layer. [29] 

The EC has met its commitments under the UNFCCC to stabilize its emissions at 1990 levels by 2000, it has also to a significant extent met 50% of its Kyoto emission reduction targets. The ECCP [30] provided the basis for the formulation of directives, including: a Directive setting up an emissions trading system (2003/87/EC) within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC. Each EU member state must develop a National Allocation Plan approved by the European Commission. This sets an overall cap on the total emissions allowed from the installations covered by the system – currently, electricity generation and energy-intensive industries such as power stations, refineries, iron, steel, cement, paper, food and drink. [31] But more work needs to be done if the 2012 targets are to be met as some member countries are lagging behind on their emission reduction targets. [32] In response to the Kyoto protocol, the EC developed European wide measures on climate change under the European Climate Change Programmme (ECCP).

EU has taken so many measures to protect the environment. Such as A Directive on the promotion of renewable energy (2001/77/EC), A Directive on the promotion of biofuels for transport (2003/30/EC), [33] A Directive establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in respect of the Kyoto Protocol's project mechanisms (2004/101/EC), A Directive on the energy performance of buildings (2002/91/EC), A revised Directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (2006/32/EC), A Directive promoting cogeneration of heat. The system is intended to provide a financial incentive to reduce emissions, as an installation that emits less than its allocation can sell the allowances it no longer needs. The system started in 2005, and has been running in phases. Phase I ran from 2005-2007. More sectors have been brought within the system for Phase II, which runs from 2008-2012. [34] Aviation will be included from 1 January 2012, under Directive 2008/101/EC. and electricity (2004/8/EC). All these measures are taken to protect the environment from adverse effects and degradation. [35] 

UK Laws on environment and Climate Change

The UK became the first country in the world to have long term legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions when “The Climate Change Act 2008 and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009" was passed [36] According to this the legislation national emissions must be cut by at least 80% by 2050. The Acts set a framework for reaching this target in stages over the years leading up to 2050 and also updated the UK programme on climate change launched in 2000, so that it covers actions well beyond 2012. That is the deadline for achieving the cuts required by the international Kyoto protocol. [37] . Some of the measures adopted by the 2000 Climate Change Programme, [38] aimed at helping the country meet its Kyoto emissions reduction targets, included: Transport control measures to reduce traffic related carbon emissions. [39] Using the IPPC regime to implement the reduction of greenhouse gases from large combustion plants as required by the Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) and Emissions Ceilings (2001/81/EC) Directives. [40] 

The setting up of a national emissions trading scheme, a market based approach to carbon emissions reduction. [41] The scheme, also known as the 'cap and trade' scheme placed a cap on the amount of emissions that polluting industries like oil producers and power generators could produce. If they went beyond this cap, they were required to buy carbon allowances from other companies which had not used up their allowances. The scheme was launched in 2002 and ended in 2006, with final reconciliation completed in March 2007. [42] Aggregates levies and Landfill tax. Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) were also introduced to allow eligible energy-intensive businesses to receive up to an 80 percent discount from the Climate Chage levy in return for meeting energy efficiency or carbon-saving targets. . Legal obligations to increase supplies of energy from renewable sources by 10.4% by 2010. Adoption of green taxes like the Climate Change levy, Fuel duty levies,This was passed into law by the Utilities Act 2000. [43] 

The Climate Change Programme was revised in 2006 with further regulatory measures on climate change, including: Renewable transport fuel obligations in force from April 2008 which requires fuel suppliers to source 5% of the fuel supplies from renewable sources. The Climate Change Act 2008 and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 build on the programme, by setting ambitious targets to cut emissions over the next 40 years. The Acts also make it possible for more measures to be introduced to help reach the targets. The reforms should help the UK meet its international and European obligations, such as those under the Europe 2020 package. [44] 

A requirement to produce annual reports to Parliament on emissions, future plans and the progress made on achieving national emission reduction targets. This is now a legally binding obligation under the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006. The first of these reports was published in 2007. [45] 

International environmental law has been based on the relationship between independent states that exercise exclusive national sovereignty over their territories. Global change is altering this vision by causing states to realize that they are locked together in sharing the use of a common global environment. The world community, due to its increasing interdependence has required an ever greater number of important international norms.

Depending on how one counts, there are well over 1,000 multilateral treaty instruments, to which several more are being added each year - precisely because it is by its very nature an imperfect process. [46] 

There are of course several sources of international law, of which the most important for the modern environmentalist are multilateral international agreements, so-called law-making treaties, which may be concluded on a universal, on other worldwide, on regional, or on sub-regional or local basis. In spite of its considerable productivity, the international legislative or norm-making process has so far been insufficiently studied, though a relatively recently concluded General Assembly exercise gathered a great deal of useful background material and considered a number of (but endorsed only a few) interesting suggestions for proposed improvements of the multilateral treaty-making process. [47] 

The development of international environmental law has two fundamental aspects which should not be overlooked; [48] these are: (1) rapid development of international environmental law and (2) the grim environmental landscape of our globe. International environmental law is the body of rules that regulate the relations between states in respect of the exploitation or improvement of the environment.

The rationale that the legislation and implementation of international environmental law should be viewed from a global ecology perspective was applied at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment Ever since the 1980s, many third-world states have taken an active part in developing international environmental legislation. They were motivated by their common aspirations to protect the international environment and natural resources. This involvement has made the legislation and implementation of international environmental law move forward with greater force. Now international environmental law has become an important discipline and an integral part of contemporary international law. International environmental law is in a state of constant and continuous development. [49] 

The international environmental law has developed by limits, the fact that the legislation and implementation of international environmental law is still facing a grim situation and that there are many problems requiring prompt solutions cannot be concealed in any way. Modern man's global ecosystem is in a more desperate situation than ever before and new sources of pollution have aggravated the situation.

A recent report from the Fourth International Conference on the Conservation and Man agreement of Lakes confirmed the warnings of an overwhelming majority of scientists all over the world that the globe is warming up; it predicted that the average temperature of the globe will be 3°C warmer by the end of the next century. There has been a sharp increase in the quantity of solid waste degrading the human environment. Acid-rain impact on larger territories and its virulence are increasing; the marketing of ever greater quantities of synthetic chemical products threatens human health; in addition the worldwide greenhouse effect, caused largely by excessive production of CO2, and nuclear pollution have, in quick succession, brought disastrous consequences. [50] 

It also pointed out that global warming will cause world sea levels to rise and also change the pattern of rainfall throughout the world. In areas of drought or semi-drought, the decrease of rainfall due to global warming will cause a loss of surface water by 40 to 70 per cent. [51] 

The measures that can be taken to reduce the degradation of environment and climate change [52] 

(1). Global cooperation in order to solve effectively the problems of environmental pollution and ecological degradation. Without involving a majority of the world's population in this global endeavour, international environmental protection and the legislation and implementation of international environmental law will fall short of success.

(2). We should create favourable conditions to encourage all nations, especially third-world countries, to take an active part in environment-related cooperative activities.

(3). Efforts should be made to strengthen the way in which the legal system is utilized to enforce international environmental law.

The increase in international agreements concluded in just the last six years, from 1985 to 1992, illustrates the increasingly rapid rate at which international environmental law is being formed. During this period, countries have negotiated a surprisingly large number of global agreements. But the most important is that there must be global collaboration if we are to meet this global challenge.


Global environmental change is not only a matter of concern among developed states but it is a matter of concern to the entire international community. International instruments incorporate this recognition in specific fields of environmental protection There is a general recognition that humankind has common interests in protecting and managing the climate system, the ozone layer, the rain forests, and biological diversity for both present and future generations. It is also recognized that these common interests are superior to those of the individual states and total more than merely their sum. Resolution 45/43 of the UN General Assembly recognizes that climate change is a common concern of mankind. [53] 

The 1972 Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage considers in the preamble that “deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural and natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world" and that “parts of the cultural and natural heritage…need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole" and that “it is incumbent on the international community as a whole to participate in the protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value." It then recognizes in Article 4 the duty of the Contracting Parties to ensure “the identifications, protection, conservation, presentation, and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage." [54] 

The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora recognizes in the preamble that “wild fauna and flora in their many beautiful and varied forms are an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth which must be protected for this and the generations to come." A Draft Convention on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity, prepared by FAO on 11 June 1990, stipulates that the states are guardians to conserve biological diversity. [55] 

The prospect of living in a world where pollution has stabilized, forests are expanding and carbon emissions are falling is an exciting one.All the destructive environmental trends are of our own making, therefore, all the problems we face can be dealt with using existing technologies and to move the world economy onto an environmentally sustainable path can be done by meeting the challenge of enforcing the plethora of treaties and other legal instruments already in place. [56] International environmental law also includes the opinions of international courts and tribunals. While there are few and they have limited authority, the decisions carry much weight with legal commentators and are quite influential on the development of international environmental law. The necessity of directly regulating a particular activity due to the activity's environmental consequences is often a subject of debate.

Inspite of the fact that all countries are very much concerned about the harm that is being done to the environment which is being done by the human activities and continually making new laws at national and international level. But still there is a long way to go. The greediness of the countries to get most developed country in the world is eating all the efforts being done to protect the environment. The development and environmental degradation seems to be like the two sides of the same coin which go together. But then all also there is need to implement hard and fast rules at international level , binding upon all the nations to stop them from playing with environment and safety of all creatures living in this universe.

The time requires that developinmg and developed countries should unite to eradicate the serious problem of global warming, climate or environment change. The inter national environmental laws are to be interpreted in such a way that they should not work as tool in the favour of any nations but will bring all countries together to incur responsibility towards the environmental protection.