Environmental Justice & The Courts: The Best Way, The Only Way Or The Need For Some Other Way

Author:Mr Aftab Ahmad Khan
Profession:Surridge & Beecheno
1. The devastating effects of environmental pollution/global warming can be judged from the various Press Releases of United Nations Environmental Program during the recent past. Last June a UNEP Press Release stated "New reports reveal widespread decline in world's ecosystem". In December last a Press Release stated, "one-sixth of the world population is affected by desertification". This reminds of another comment by a notable scientist, "Three-fourths of the earth's surface is under water and the remainder is under constant fire". In January last a Press Release stated, "New evidence confirms rapid global warming", say scientists". In February last a Press Release states, "Impact of climate change to cost the world US$ three hundred billion a year".

2. The magnitude of ecological degradation is likely to cause sharp changes in global weather patterns with consequential costly plague of disasters, including drought, coastal floods, widespread disruption of agriculture, increase in tropical diseases, and is of universal concern. Realization of such degradation has induced a spirited battle for environmental protection throughout the world. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, requiring the signatory countries to reduce their green house gas emission to 5% below its 1990 level by the year 2008 to 2012 is an example. Today we are once again in Japan discussing environmental protection.

Countries, particularly in the developing world face a common threat to their environment, with unbridled industrial development leading to severe deforestation, intensive wetland development, decimated marine life, and a resultant increase in air, water and noise pollution.

3. Faced with this situation, the developing/under-developed countries are legislating to contain the decline in the ecosystem, the increase of desertification and to improve environmental protection. While some countries have made necessary provisions in their Constitutions, others are legislating specific laws on environmental protection. Some of these are, Sri Lanka's National Environmental Authority Act, 1980, the Indian Environment Protection Act, 1986, the UAE's 1999 Federal Law for the Protection and Development of Environment, the Nepalese Environment Conservation Act, 1997, the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995, and the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.

4. Legislation to contain degradation of environmental pollution, is insufficient unless the mechanism to implement it is established....

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