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Ramifications Of The International Conventions And Protocol Apropos The Conservation Of The Environment On A World Wide Range

All the physical surroundings on Earth are called the environment. The environment includes everything living and everything nonliving. The nonliving part of the environment has three main parts: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere. The three types of environment are the physical environment, social environment, and culture. Humans are part of the environment, they live in it, from it and with it.

All these interactions shape our natural world. This is especially true in the Mediterranean, where human activities have shaped local landscapes for thousands of years, creating characteristic ecological heterogeneity and biodiversity patterns. Environment mainly consists of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. But it can be roughly divided into two types such as:
  1. Micro environment and
  2. Macro environment
  3. Physical environment refers to all abiotic factors or conditions like temperature, light, rainfall, soil, minerals etc.

    This Paper elucidates the major Problems related to Environment such as Deforestation, Pollution, Global Warming, Depletion of Natural Resources, Rise of Sea level, Soil erosion, Acid Rain, Climate Change in a sequenced manner so that it would be easy for us to understand the complicated terms.

The Earth and the Sun work in a similar fashion on a much more massive scale and a different physical process. The sun shines through the Earth's atmosphere and the earth's surface warms up. Some of the Sun's energy is reflected directly back to space, the rest is absorbed by land, ocean, and the atmosphere.

The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat radiating from Earth toward space. In this Paper, I have explained in nutshell the important environmental terms such as Common but differentiated Responsibility, Carbon Credit, Carbon sink, Montreal Protocol, Kyoto Protocol, Global Environment Facility, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Environmental Refugees, Green House Gases, Ozone Depletion etc.

Green House Gases:

A greenhouse is constructed of glass, allowing sunlight to penetrate the exterior and warm the air and plants inside. The heat that isn't absorbed by plants is trapped by the glass and can't escape. Throughout daylight hours, sunlight keeps coming through the glass, adding more and more heat energy so the inside gets warmer and warmer and continues to stay warm after the sun sets. The process is called the greenhouse effect because the exchange of incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the planet works in a similar way to a greenhouse.

Incoming UV radiation easily passes through the glass walls of a greenhouse and is absorbed by the plants and hard surfaces inside. Weaker IR radiation, however, has difficulty passing through the glass walls and is trapped inside, thus warming the greenhouse.

This effect lets tropical plants thrive inside a greenhouse, even during a cold winter. A similar phenomenon takes place in a car parked outside on a cold, sunny day. Incoming solar radiation warms the car's interior, but outgoing thermal radiation is trapped inside the car's closed windows.

The greenhouse effect is a natural process that warms the Earth's surface. When the Sun's energy reaches the Earth's atmosphere, some of it is reflected back to space and the rest is absorbed and re-radiated by greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and some artificial chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

The absorbed energy warms the atmosphere and the surface of the Earth. This process maintains the Earth's temperature at around 33 degrees Celsius warmer than it would otherwise be, allowing life on Earth to exist. The problem we now face is that human activities � particularly burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), agriculture and land clearing � are increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases. This is the enhanced greenhouse effect, which is contributing to warming of the Earth.

Carbon Credit:

A carbon credit is a permit or certificate allowing the holder to emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. The credit limits the emission to a mass equal to one ton of carbon dioxide. The issuance of carbon credits aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The aim of the carbon credit system is the reduction of the release of harmful gases from industrial activity. Industrial production is deemed a significant contributor to increased greenhouse gases. The backbone of the carbon credit system is a government or other regulating bodies that can attempt to limit the total tons of carbon dioxide emitted through the issuance and regulation of carbon credit.

Carbon credit policies place a cost on carbon emissions by creating credits valued against one ton of hydrocarbon fuel. A carbon credit is fundamentally a permit that allows the receiver to burn a specified amount of hydrocarbon fuel over a specified period. The ceding of carbon credits are to companies or groups that act to reduce carbon emissions measurably. Companies or nations may trade carbon certificates to help balance total worldwide emissions.

Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented its carbon credit proposal as a market-oriented mechanism to slow worldwide carbon emissions. The ratification of the international carbon credit system is in agreement with the Kyoto Protocol with clarification of its market mechanisms at the subsequent conference in Marrakesh. In addition to the legally binding goals of the Kyoto Protocol, there are also voluntary carbon credit markets.

The separate Clean Development Mechanism for developing countries issues carbon credits called Certified Emission Reduction (CER). A developing nation may receive these credits for supporting sustainable development initiatives. The trading of CERs is on a separate marketplace.

Over the centuries, war, political crisis, and geopolitical factors have forced people to flee their homes and seek refuge across borders. However, in the last few years, environmental problems like droughts, floods, and volcanic activity are forcing people to seek shelter in other countries. Such an exodus is referred to as environmental migration and the populace as environmental refugees or climate migrants.

Environmental Refugees:

The term �environmental refugees' is said to have been coined in by Essam -El-Hinnawi in a United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) publication of the same name, wherein, he describes the phenomenon as those persons who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, either temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural and/or triggered by people) that jeopardized their existence and/or seriously affected their quality of life.

�The concept has got worldwide attention as environmental disasters like global warming and desertification are forcing people to leave their livelihoods and start life afresh on foreign lands.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 rendered the erstwhile Soviet Union city unfit for human inhabitation after an explosion in a nuclear reactor. Inability to maintain life due to lack of resources like starvation or malnutrition: The third category of environmental refugees include people who had to move out their homes mainly because their surroundings cannot support them financially. Myers has predicted that the number of environmental refugees in the world could rise up to 150 million by 2050. The exodus forced by environmental disasters adds to the pressure faced by countries and governments to provide for a teeming population.

Kyoto Protocol:

The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Protocol's first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.A second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period and a revised list of GHGs to be reported on by Parties.

India has ratified the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.

The Paris agreement (2015) is not an amendment to Kyoto Protocol but a separate instrument altogether.

Target under this protocol applies to following GHGs:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous Oxide (NO2)
  • Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6)

Two groups of gases:
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

Kyoto Protocol includes flexible mechanisms� which allow member countries economies to meet their GHG targets by purchasing GHG emission reductions from elsewhere. These can be bought either from financial exchanges (International Emissions Trading Scheme).

Global Environment Facility:

The Global Environment Facility (GEF or the Facility) was established in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or World Bank) as a pilot program in order to assist in the protection of the global environment and promote thereby environmentally sound and sustainable economic development, by resolution of the Executive Directors of the World Bank and related interagency arrangements between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Bank.

The GEF shall operate, on the basis of collaboration and partnership among the Implementing Agencies, as a mechanism for international cooperation for the purpose of providing new and additional grant and concessional funding to meet the agreed incremental costs of measures to achieve agreed global environmental benefits in the following focal areas:
  1. biological diversity;
  2. climate change;
  3. international waters;
  4. land degradation, primarily desertification and deforestation;
  5. chemicals and wastes.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established in 1991 and unites 182 member governments in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment.

Carbon Sequestration:

A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration.

In the fight against climate change, not only human story to counteract the effects of global warming with mitigation and adaptation measures, but nature itself has its own weapons to try to keep the average temperature of the planet from increasing.

For that, carbon sinks, which are natural (oceans and forests) and artificial deposits (certain technologies and chemicals) absorb and capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and reduce its concentration in the air.

Carbon Sinks:

Natural carbon sinks are oceans and forests .Oceans are considered the main natural carbon sinks, as they are capable of absorbing about 50% of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere. In particular, plankton, corals, fish, algae and other photosynthetic bacteria are responsible for this capture.Carbon sinks are very important for our environment, because they act like sponges to soak up the carbon compounds that are playing such an enormous role in global climate change. Basically, carbon sinks are holding tanks for carbon or carbon compounds, like carbon dioxide (CO2).

One of the largest reservoirs of carbon is the Earth's hard rock crust. Over the eons sedimentary rocks were formed that contain loads of carbon compounds, including the hydrocarbons that we now use as fossil fuels. Sedimentary rocks may hold an enormous amount of carbon, but they are not considered a carbon sink because they no longer take in more carbon than is released primarily through volcanic eruptions. In fact, due to man's use of fossil fuel, they are a source of much of the excess CO2 in our atmosphere.

The growing urbanisation in India has caused rapid changes in land use and land cover within urban areas. These rapid changes have brought a change in the microclimatic conditions particularly with respect to its thermal structure. The phenomenon of increased higher temperatures within city compared to the surrounding rural areas is known as the �Urban Heat Island' (UHI).

Montreal Protocol:

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. The ozone layer is a natural layer of gas in the upper atmosphere that protects humans and other living things from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Although ozone is present in small concentrations throughout the atmosphere, most (around 90%) exists in the stratosphere, a layer 10 to 50 kilometres above the Earth's surface. The ozone layer filters out most of the sun's harmful UV radiation and is therefore crucial to life on Earth. Scientists discovered in the 1970s that the ozone layer was being depleted.

Atmospheric concentrations of ozone vary naturally depending on temperature, weather, latitude and altitude, while substances ejected by natural events such as volcanic eruptions can also affect ozone levels. However, these natural phenomena could not explain the levels of depletion observed and scientific evidence revealed that certain man-made chemicals were the cause. These ozone-depleting substances were mostly introduced in the 1970s in a wide range of industrial and consumer applications, mainly refrigerators, air conditioners and fire extinguishers.

Common But Differentiated Responsibility:

Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) was formalized in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992. The CBDR principle is mentioned in UNFCCC article 3 paragraph 1.., and article 4 paragraph 1. It was the first international legal instrument to address climate change and the most comprehensive international attempt to address negative impacts to global environment. CBDR principle acknowledges all states have shared obligation to address environmental destruction but denies equal responsibility of all states with regard to environmental protection.

In the Earth Summit, states acknowledged disparity of economic development between developed and developing countries. Industrialization proceeded in developed countries much earlier than it did in developing countries. CBDR is based on relationship between industrialization and climate change. The more industrialized a country is, more likely that it has contributed to climate change.

States came to an agreement that developed countries contributed more to environmental degradation and should have greater responsibility than developing countries. CBDR principle could therefore be said to be based on polluter-pays principle where historical contribution to climate change and respective ability become measures of responsibility for environmental protection.

Concept of CBDR evolved from notion of "common concern" in Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission of 1949 and "common heritage of mankind" in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982.

Depletion Of Ozone Layer:

The ozone layer is mainly found in the lower portion of the stratosphere, about 20 to 30 km (12 to 19 miles) above the earth, though the thickness varies seasonally and geographically. The ozone layer protects living things from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun; without the protection of the ozone layer, millions of people would develop skin cancer and weakened immune systems.

Concern about a depleting ozone layer dates back to the 1970s. Scientists then discovered a hole� in the ozone layer over the Antarctic in the 1980s. Initially, concern for the ozone focused on chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Later, halons, carbon tetrachloride (CTC), methyl bromide and hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were targeted.

Rise Of Sea Level In The Globe:

At least since 1880, the average global sea level has been rising. Between 1900 and 2016, sea level rose by approximately 16 to 21 cm (7-8 inch). ... The acceleration is due mostly to human-caused global warming, which is driving thermal expansion of seawater and melt of land-based ice sheets and glaciers.The term sea-level rise generally designates the average long-term global rise of the ocean surface measured from the centre of the earth (or more precisely, from the earth reference ellipsoid), as derived from satellite observations.

Relative sea-level rise refers to long-term average sea-level rise relative to the local land level, as derived from coastal tide gauges. Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms.

Near the end of the 20th century, concerns about global warming and environmental degradation grew. The aim of the carbon credit system is the reduction of the release of harmful gases from industrial activity. Industrial production is deemed a significant contributor to increased greenhouse gases. The concept has got worldwide attention as environmental disasters like global warming and desertification are forcing people to leave their livelihoods and start life afresh on foreign lands.

While a lot has been written about the humanitarian side of the issue, the conflict between environmental refugees and climate has a far-reaching impact on the environment. Such effects include over-exploitation vegetation which in turn leads to erosion of soil, deforestation to clear land for building shelters, lower resistance to diseases between the host country and the refugees, pollution of soil and water and depletion of �reserve lands' set aside by the host country for periods of drought.

Alternative energy is any energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. These alternatives are intended to address concerns about fossil fuels, such as its high carbon dioxide emissions, an important factor in global warming. Marine energy, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and solar power are all alternative sources of energy. All these ramifications could be addressed in a proper way so that the conservation of the Planet and the Survival of the living things is Possible so that the serene and the tranquillity of the mother Earth shall be preserved.

  1. P.LeelaKrishnan, Environmental Law in India� 5th edition, Volume 1(2019).
  2. Nawneet Vibhaw , Environmental Law- An Introduction� 1st edition, Volume 1 (2016)

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.A.Jonah Elisa Shiny
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