International Environmental Law (IEL) is concerned with the attempt to control pollution and the depletion of natural resources within a framework of sustainable development. It is a branch of public international law – a body of law created by states for states to govern problems that arise between states.
IEL covers topics such as population, biodiversity, climate change, ozone depletion, toxic and hazardous substances, air, land, sea and transboundary water pollution, conservation of marine resources, desertification, and nuclear damage.
Humanity has been aware of its environment far longer than there have been laws to protect environments. Environmental law, or sometimes known as environmental and natural resources law, is a term used to explain regulations, statutes, local, national and international legislation, and treaties designed to protect the environment from damage and to explain the legal consequences of such damage towards governments or private entities or individuals . As we will explain in the next section, it covers many areas, all with the same purpose already described here. However, the term “environmental law” does not just cover government legislation. It can also describe a desire by businesses and other organizations, and their regulators to work towards improving ethical principles by setting regulation and industry standards for operating licenses. These are not “laws” per se but act as such within a regulatory framework. It can also apply a method of land management on a kind of understanding of acting responsibly and ethically.
Similarly, impact assessment is not always legally required, but the permission to develop, construct, modify or engineer can often be refused if one is not carried out. These are voluntary regulations rather than law conducted for the good of the environment and the local population. For various reasons, environmental law has always been a flashpoint of controversy. Debates often center on cost, the necessity of such regulations, and the age-old friction between government regulation and encouraging the market to self-regulate and do the right thing for the good of everyone. For example, the ongoing debate over the impact of certain pesticides in agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions are often a battle between the science and industry’s attempts to muddy the science and government lobbying to roll back legislation . The other side of the debate is that current industry regulations and legislation are insufficient. Both sides regularly hold conferences to discuss aspects of environmental law and how they should go about getting them changed in their favor.
Whichever way we look at it, environmental law affects all of us – individual health, business activity, geographical sustainability, and the importance of preserving those for the future generations and economy.