The Environment: Whose Responsibility?
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Laura Smith 10th February 2001 11CHi The Environment: Whose Responsibility? It has been only in the last few decades that the global community has realized that we have the responsibility to deliver a clean and peaceful planet to our future generations. It has been only in the past few years that the global community has begun to take this realisation seriously and move from theoretical commitments to the actual implementation of corrective measures to change polluting and destructive practices and activities. As we move into a new century, and millennium, the global community is running out of time. Clearly the implementation of measures to achieve sustainable development must be increased and accelerated. This is especially the case with respect to preventing the release of toxic substances and hazardous waste generation, without which sustainable development will remain merely a dream. taken from greenpeace.org So somebody has to take responsibility for the environment and try to push for global sustainability. Who should it be? There are four main groups of people who could be held accountable for the environment : The natural assumption may be that the governments of the world have responsibility for the environment. Surely we put our trust in our governments in the hope that they will appreciate the true value of the environment and that they will deal effectively with any problems that may damage it. Labour policies say they have "put the environment at the heart of our policy-making since the General Election, fulfilling our commitment to protect and enhance the environment which is spelt out in Clause IV of our constitution."
The public will probably never get motivated by themselves to do something but everybody does have a share of responsibility to the environment. Why does it have to be that some people spend years of their lives protesting for the environment and doing whatever they can while others do not even pick up their own litter or recycle their rubbish? This is where pressure groups come in - self organised committees, charities or just groups of people who are set up with the specific aim of putting pressure on the government and businesses in the hope of a change in policy. In Greenpeace's own words their role is to "expose such issues of environmental irresponsibility - and to help citizens and consumers to exert real influence. Politicians must recognise that damage to the environment and human health cannot simply be "discounted" against economic gain. For as long as the "economic argument" remains paramount, truly responsible decision-making will remain out of reach." Greenpeace and other pressure groups don't have a responsibility as such for the environment other than them being members of the public. This is because they have not been put into their position or made certain promises to the public to gain their place. Greenpeace is run on a voluntary basis and anyone who works for the organisation does so because he or she cares about the environment. This means that with pressure groups there is no worry of them putting other things above the environment as this is their one and only concern and this is what the group exists to protect.
Contrary to some beliefs, we can all make a positive contribution to improving the quality of the air that we breathe. It is obvious, but the less pollution we all create the better for everyone. By making even a small effort to cut down on your vehicle's emissions you'll be helping to improve our urban air quality and limit the impact on our climate." This shows that BP feels it has a responsibility to the environment and is willing to fulfil it. This is because BP knows that the environment is something which affects everyone and so no other marketing campaign can reach as many people. To say that this is the only reason is cynical, and perhaps unfair when BP have put so much money in to their "cleaner fuels" campaign, and actually creating some cleaner fuels for their service stations. But does it really matter what BP's motives are as long as they go green? As long as they do not lie on their adverts can they be begrudged a rise in demand? Perhaps this competitive advantage will encourage their competitors to "go green" as well. They get a good deal because their reputation is better thanks to their environmentally friendly status, and because of this people are more likely to stop at their filling stations, so increasing demand and ultimately profits. I conclude that everybody e.g. the public is responsible for the environment. However the emphasis is on the government to make sure that the public and businesses all do their bit. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1
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