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The Current Environmental Policy in the USA Essay

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2022

Environmental policy is a set of measures used to achieve the strategic goal of preserving natural systems, maintaining their integrity, and life-supporting functions for society’s sustainable development. This paper analyzes the current US environmental policy and its basic principles. It examines them in the context of international politics and globalization. With this approach, the main stakeholders in the development of environmental policy are primarily countries and states, and the major indicator of positive or negative consequences is the global impact on their ecological and economic development.

At the beginning of the 21st century, environmental issues became one of the priorities of international relations, especially the problems created by climate change. In the late 1980s, American and Western European ecologists introduced the concept of “global warming”: the effect of carbon monoxide emissions on a gradual increase in the Earth’s average annual temperature (Kraft, 2017). This concept was later consolidated in a series of international legal instruments. In addition to it, the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, fixing quotas for countries to reduce carbon monoxide emissions (Kraft, 2017). Thus, the US enters the international arena of environmental management.

In 1972, the Club of Rome prepared the report “Limits to Growth”. It recorded two critical problems for modern ecopolitics: the exhaustion of the Earth’s natural resources and the impossibility of continuing permanent economic growth based on industrial society. To solve these issues, the experts proposed sustainable development: limiting economic growth to preserve the sustainability of the existing ecosystem (Kraft, 2017). In the 1970s and 1980s, the topic of “sustainable development” was widely discussed at the meetings of the Trilateral Commission and G7 summits. This approach, however, caused a wary attitude in the Third World. China, the countries of Southeast Asia, and Latin America perceived the concept of “sustainable development” as an attempt to forcefully restrict their economic growth. Chinese experts even invented a particular term “ecological imperialism”: the policy of perpetuating the economic inequality of states through speculation around environmental issues (Harris, 2017). Thus, an ecological policy cannot be seen as only a set of measures aimed at sustainability.

To reduce emissions into the atmosphere, the United States is pursuing a policy of transferring particularly harmful enterprises to neighboring countries, particularly in Latin America. For example, in Mexico, the Ford Motor Company automobile plant has been operating for a long time, on average, emits about 1,340 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per day (Lindstrom, 2017). It essentially damages the ecology of the territory where the enterprise is located. The method of transferring production to less developed countries does not solve air pollution, but it does reduce the burden on the US natural environment.

In 2017, with the coming to power of the representative of the Republican Party, D. Trump, the US environmental policy underwent radical changes. In the spring of 2017, a decree was issued, abolishing many environmental norms adopted by the Obama government. The program to reduce atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gases was closed. Corporations have again gained virtually uncontrolled access to energy resources “for economic growth.” (Harris, 2017). The US also exited the Paris Climate Agreement (Kraft, 2017). Thus, whereas the US may benefit from their policy in terms of economic development and, although doubtful now, sustainability, the main stakeholders gaining advantage from this current policy are the US corporations.

On the environmental example, one can see that crafting any policy involves a lot of different stakeholders and not all of them benefit from it. Nowadays it is impossible to consider any political guideline without linking it with the global arena of international relations. In the case of the US environmental policy, the main actors experiencing negative impacts are developing countries, which receive vast parts of dangerous US industries.

References

Harris, P. G. (2017). International equity and global environmental politics: power and principles in US foreign policy. Routledge.

Kraft, M. E. (2017). Environmental policy and politics. Taylor & Francis.

Lindstrom, P. (2017). . US Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis.

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IvyPanda. "The Current Environmental Policy in the USA." June 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-current-environmental-policy-in-the-usa/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Current Environmental Policy in the USA." June 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-current-environmental-policy-in-the-usa/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Current Environmental Policy in the USA'. 17 June.

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