Environmental issues have increased across the world in line with the increasing human activities following the industrial revolution. There was an increase in the establishment of industries all over the world in the early years of the 20th century1. Most nations, especially in Europe and America, became industrialized at around this time. Human labour gradually started being replaced by machinery, which was using fuel for energy. The fuel was obtained through burning coal that was and remains one of the major causative factors of the environmental degradation as it emits carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. This gas causes the destruction of the ozone layer, leading to the increased temperatures on the earth surface. Climate change is considered one of the most common environmental concerns.
Other environmental issues include environmental conservation because some species in both animal and plant kingdoms are rapidly becoming extinct. There are also energy related issues, destruction of the global habitats as a result of human activities like deforestation; environmental related illnesses such as asthma; and soil contamination among other issues2. Laws have been developed in different parts of the world aiming at addressing these environmental issues. Different regions have various environmental protection laws and measures because industrialization did not occur evenly on all territories. This means that the extent of environmental issues differs from country to country. This article will focus on the different measures adopted by the European systems and the Mediterranean countries’ systems in the efforts to protect the environment from pollution. The paper will also address the similarities that exist between the two regions in the area of environmental protection.
Europe systems’ scope in the protection of the environment from pollution
It is believed that every human being has a right to have access to clean water, breathe clean air, and live in a clean ecosystem. Consequently, there are measures that are taken by the European Union leaders to protect the environment from being damaged by the increasing human activities, as well as natural factors. Environmental protection is said to play a very essential role in Europe3. There are also activities that are directly geared towards ensuring that there is substantial or complete elimination of pollution.
The industrial chemicals are some of the pollutants that contaminate the air, causing global warming. The European Union has a legislation referred to as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) that is meant to restrict their usage. This is an Act that requires all firms and organisations that deal in the manufacture and export of chemicals to carry out a thorough evaluation of the risks that could be associated with the chemicals they use in their processes. Once they conduct the evaluation, they should then take the steps that are necessary in managing the risks thereof to an extent that they are not harmful to the environment, or they have minimal damage4. The factory has an obligation to prove that the chemicals it is producing are safe both to the environment, and human beings.
There is also a policy that is aimed at ensuring that the water used in the European region is clean and safe for domestic and industrial consumption. The community water policy was established in 1995 with the major goal to guarantee the availability of clean drinking water. In general, the major way in which the European countries protect the environment is through the establishment of policies. The leaders make policies that address various environmental issues in the region. However, there are other methods such as advocacy whereby the concerned governmental bodies and non-governmental organisations advocate for behaviours that are environmentally friendly to help eliminate the chances of environmental pollution as much as possible. One should also keep in mind the activism and education initiatives. People and organisations are educated on how they can carry out production activities without damaging the environment. Activism is mostly performed by non-governmental organisations that pressure the government to take measures to protect the environment.
The Mediterranean countries’ scope in the protection of the environment from pollution
The Mediterranean countries are the ones adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea such as Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, as well as some European countries. However, for the purpose of this article, the focus will be on the Mediterranean countries in Asia and Africa because those in Europe have already been addressed above. Asia is a continent which industrial revolution occurred much later compared to Europe and America. As for Africa, it also witnessed the industrial revolution later. Many countries in these two regions, i.e. Asia and Africa, are classified as the third world countries because they dragged in terms of economic and social development. Environmental issues in this region should be directed to protecting the Mediterranean Sea because it has a significant economic impact on the region. In addition, the environmental issues should focus on the indigenous ecosystem. At this point, it is worth noting that the region is at times referred to as the cradle of civilization, thus it has been subjected to a lot of human encroachment, which has led to the destruction of the indigenous ecosystem.
Some major issues in the Mediterranean countries are overfishing, water shortages, marine pollution, deforestation, as well as unsustainable development. Moreover, the region has faced the problem of population growth and rural-urban migration5. There are organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, that work towards the protection of the Mediterranean environment. One of such organisations involved in this bid is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This is an organisation that funds much effort meant to protect the environment in the Mediterranean region, as well as other parts of the world. The WWF specifically concentrates on the indigenous species that are facing the prospect of becoming extinct. The region also gets support from the European nations6.
Following the topic, the European Commission in conjunction with the European Investment Bank are two European organisations that have invested in the region. The organisations have projects aiming at addressing environmental issues. Thus, the two institutions have a project dubbed the EC Horizon 2020 Initiative with the goal to address all the environmental issues in the Mediterranean countries before or by the year 2020. Therefore, one can observe a difference between the European countries’ and the Mediterranean countries’ systems in the efforts to protect the environment from pollution in that the European countries try to do that with no outside help, while the Mediterranean countries are assisted by the European nations.
Another programme that the Mediterranean countries have adopted in the bid to protect the environment is the Mediterranean Hot Spots Investment Programme, which is a programme that is conducted by the European Investment Bank together with the United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). Although this is an independent programme, it is also supporting the EC Horizon 2020 Initiative. The Blue Plan is another program that is connected with the Horizon 2020 Initiative7. This is meant to protect the marine environment and marine life8.
It is evident that the Mediterranean countries mostly rely on programmes and project investment in protecting the environment, while the European nations mostly focus on formulating and implementing policies. The Mediterranean countries also have some policies meant to protect the environment from pollution. However, this is not their main way to perform these tasks.
The similarities that exist between the two regions in their efforts to prevent the environment from pollution include education and advocacy. The Mediterranean countries also educate people about the dangers of environmental degradation and the ways they can protect the environment, the same way the European countries do. There are also organisations that advocate for better environments. In addition, there are activism groups and organisations that push for good human behaviours and industrial activities that will not destroy the environment.
Environmental pollution is a global problem because it has affected virtually all nations in the world. Moreover, this problem has raised an alarm because its consequences are likely to be harmful both to humanity and the economy. The methods and scope of protecting the environment from pollution for each nation may vary from those of other nations due to the differences in the activities that are carried out there. However, there are some common environmental issues that call for similar strategies to be applied in controlling environmental pollution. The European countries and the Mediterranean countries are located in different geographical regions, thus they have different environmental issues. Consequently, different mechanisms for protecting the environment have been adopted by the governments and non-governmental organisations in both regions. For instance, the Mediterranean countries mainly rely on the outside help to conserve the environment, while the European countries formulate and implement policies to conserve the environment without relying on external support.
Benoit, G, & A Comeau, A sustainable future for the Mediterranean: the blue plan’s environment and development outlook, Earthscan, London, 2005.
Frank, V, The European Community and Marine environmental protection in the international law of the sea: Implementing global obligations at the regional level, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2006.
Fridell, R, Environmental issues, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, Tarrytown, 2005.
Gaudin, C, & C De Young, Recreational fisheries in the Mediterranean countries: A review of existing legal frameworks, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 2007.
Harris, F, Global environmental issues, 2nd edn, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2012.
Kissling-Näf, I, & S Kuks, The evolution of national water regimes in Europe: Transitions in water rights and water policies, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2004.
Schmidt, M, & L Knopp, Reform in CEE-countries with regard to European enlargement: Institution building and public administration reform in the environmental sector. Springer, Berlin, 2004.
Wainwright, J, & JB Thornes, Environmental issues in the Mediterranean processes and perspectives from the past and present, Routledge, New York, 2003.
- F Harris, Global Environmental Issues,2nd edn, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2012, p. 123.
- R Fridell, Environmental Issues, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, Tarrytown, 2005, p. 85.
- M Schmidt, & L Knopp, Reform in CEE-Countries with regard to European enlargement: Institution building and public administration reform in the environmental sector, Springer, Berlin, 2004, p. 67.
- I Kissling-Näf, & S Kuks, The evolution of national water regimes in Europe: Transitions in water rights and water policies, Kluwer Academic Publ, Dordrecht, 2004, p. 201.
- J Wainwright, & JB Thornes, Environmental Issues in the Mediterranean processes and perspectives from the past and present, Routledge, New York, 2003, p. 102.
- V Frank, The European Community and marine environmental protection in the International Law of the Sea: Implementing global obligations at the regional level, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2006, p. 12.
- G Benoit, & A Comeau, A sustainable future for the Mediterranean: The Blue Plan’s environment and development outlook, Earthscan, London, 2005, p. 23.
- C Gaudin, & C De Young, Recreational fisheries in the Mediterranean countries: A review of existing legal frameworks, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2007, p. 46.