Effective Environmental Policies – Seeking for the Impossible?

When discussing environmental issues, firstly their potential effectiveness needs to be determined. How does one ensure active participation in the governmental contests, which in turn culminates in effective decision-making procedures? Some argue – and this article shall assert in accordance – that the environmental policies lack the immediacy of a relationship between the issues indicated and our personal experiences. Or perhaps, as our contemporary actualities often indicate, there is no such relationship and individuals simply cannot identify themselves with environmental challenges?

In the past, it was rather easy to relate oneself to particular issues. As one of the leading twentieth-century figures in the study of international politics – Hans Morgenthau – claimed, ensuring popular participation in terms of slavery, free trade, social and economic legislation, was an uncomplicated task, since all the challenges had a direct relationship to the life experiences of individual citizens. Their moral values as well as their social interests were triggered, hence defining the complexity of, for instance, slavery as a truly intimate matter. Thus one might surely say – the capacity to identify oneself personally with the concerning issues is what environmental controversies indispensably lack. It is for this reason that establishing the much-needed personal link between the problem of climate change and societies across the continents should be the primary aim of environmental policies. This might seem as an accurate task to accomplish.

Does environmental literacy truly lead to a sense of empowerment and mutual responsibility?

However, the subsequent questions inevitably emerge. Do the above-mentioned concerns necessarily imply the need of high-quality environmental education programs that could succeed in moving values and transforming behaviors in the direction of sustainability and environmental conservation? Does environmental literacy truly lead to a sense of empowerment and mutual responsibility? The answers to these inquiries often suggest quite contrary findings. Instead of awareness raising programs, expenditure policy instruments that utilize financial resources prove to be more effective. Money deployed as a stick (e.g. carbon taxes), a carrot (e.g. subsidies) or both (e.g. emissions trading) have been considered as one of the best practices in environmental policies. According to the Network for Business Sustainability report, of those policies targeting governmental practices, 55 percent were seen as effective, compared with just 29 percent of those targeting firms (48 percent of policies targeting citizens were seen as effective; Click for more information here! ).

Thus, perhaps the principal concern of those composing environmental policies should evolve around the potential financial gains. Making environmental values a central part of public education requires time, nowadays a luxury item. Therefore, taking into account the implications that environmental policies have for business, a balanced framework to utilize regulatory and enforcement instruments is something every government should establish.

One might assert the following, which should indeed be considered as truth – the government and businesses are all composed of individuals and so the relevance of a personal link between our surroundings and us does not diminish. Thus, the issue of transmitting the so-called responsibilities of protecting the environment into actual obligations while simultaneously strengthening the personal self-identification with the Earth prevails. Will the money solve this problem or will it be you, the reader, instead?

Featured Image: Touam (Hervé Agnoux) (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Youth_for_Climate_Marseille_15_mars_2019_place_Félix_Baret.jpg), „Youth for Climate Marseille 15 mars 2019 place Félix Baret“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

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