Enviroment Programme Discusses How to Enforce Air Pollution Guidelines

BY OLIVIA MILNE, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

The United Nations Environment Programme is currently debating two separate proposed resolutions to address the global issue of air pollution. As debate about this issue moves forward, the delegates in this committee attempted to differentiate their plans, and how they would implement them in a press conference this afternoon. 

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Delegates in the Environment Programme prepare to answer questions from the press.

The delegation from the Philippines argued that the proposed resolution they support more effectively combats health tourism, and is more focused on how to combat the various health issues caused by air pollution. The Tanzanian delegation argued that the two papers, while different in some respects, both fail to provide solutions for domestic pollution, such as air pollution causes by individual homes. The Tanzanian delegation pointed out that this is an especially pressing matter in African nations.

Many of the countries in this committee support the idea of providing help to underdeveloped nations that seek to reduce their contributions to air pollution. India’s delegation stated that their solution to the issue effectively addresses this issue. India supports a system of milestones and guidelines for developing nations hoping to reduce their levels of pollution

However, the Canadian delegation expressed concern that neither of the working papers are concerned with the fair distribution of greenhouse gases between developed and developing nations. The burden of greenhouse gas emissions often unfairly falls on underdeveloped nations, as they do not posses the resources developed nations do to control them.

The question then becomes about what should be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in undeveloped countries. Most agree that the solution is not to penalize or punish developing nations for producing more greenhouse gases than others. Rather, they think that fairer rules should be developed. It is proposed that developed nations should have to share the burden of greenhouse gases, as well as the resources they use to deal with them. The delegation from Mexico supported this, stating that developing countries should reach out to and receive more help from NGO’s to reduce greenhouse levels.

However, the main concern with both of these proposed plans is how to hold countries accountable to them. The United Nations Environment Programme has no power to legally bind nations to following these resolutions, and therefore their power to enforce them is limited. According to the Russian Federation, the committee is split between two methods for enforcing their guidelines.

One group seeks to implement their plan through providing things like tax incentives to countries that follow their suggestions. The other group proposes that through creating realistic, attainable goals for countries, there will be increased accountability to meet these goals. This plan will largely use peer pressure to get countries to comply with the proposed resolutions. However, the potency of both of these forms of inducing compliance is questionable. The effectiveness is both plans is still under question until the Environment Programme can prove that they can effectively implement their plans.

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