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The Intersection of Politics and the Environment

“The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. If we cannot

sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves.”

- Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Laureate

Environmental concerns have become a major concern for governments and communities all

over the world, and political actions have had a substantial impact on environmental laws and

practices. The environment and politics are intricately interwoven. Political leaders' and

governments' actions and policies have a significant influence on the environment. Politicians'

choices may either result in the preservation and conservation of the environment, or in its

destruction and deterioration.

Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Rousseau's classical ideas offer distinct viewpoints on the interaction

between politics and the environment. Aristotle and Rousseau saw the environment as a shared

resource that should be maintained for the benefit of all members of society, but Machiavelli viewed

the environment as only essential to the extent that it contributed to the ruling class's power and

riches. These theories contend that the attitudes and priorities of political leaders and societies

impact the role of politics in environmental challenges.

Laws and regulations are one of the primary ways in which politics influences the environment.

Governments enact rules and regulations that govern how people, businesses, and other

organizations interact with the environment. These rules and regulations have the potential to

either encourage environmentally benign behaviour or permit ecologically destructive actions. In

the United States, for example, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have been critical in

decreasing air and water pollution. Furthermore, governments can limit the quantity of pollution

that businesses can spew into the air and water. They can also control the use of pesticides and

other chemicals in agriculture in order to conserve ecosystems and safeguard human health.

These restrictions might be harsh or loose, with varying degrees of enforcement. Companies may

continue to engage in ecologically hazardous actions if restrictions are not enforced.

Politics also has an impact on the environment through funding and investment. Governments

can direct money towards environmentally beneficial projects and initiatives such as renewable

energy projects, conservation measures, and sustainable transportation. They can, on the other

hand, invest in businesses known to be ecologically detrimental, such as coal mining or oil

drilling. Subsidies and tax breaks can be provided by governments to corporations in the fossil

fuel sector. The Global Environment Facility (GEF), for example, is a collaboration of many

governments and organizations that provides financial assistance for environmental initiatives.

The GEF's financing decisions are dictated by its member nations' interests, and political

decisions can impair its capacity to give financial assistance for environmental programmes.

Moreover, politics can have an influence on international environmental treaties and

collaboration. The Montreal Protocol, for instance, was a global accord aimed at protecting the

ozone layer. Political leaders from several nations played an important part in the agreement's

negotiation and implementation. Climate change can be mitigated or exacerbated by political

actions. Similarly, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change required substantial diplomatic

efforts to bring together various countries to address the challenge of climate change. For

example, withdrawing from international agreements, such as the Paris Climate Agreement,

might stymie global efforts to mitigate climate change. The United States' exit from the Paris

Accord has a major influence on worldwide efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Likewise, policies that promote fossil fuel businesses over renewable energy can exacerbate

climate change.

Political decisions can also have an indirect influence on the environment. Political instability,

for example, can contribute to environmental damage. When governments are weak or unstable,

it is possible that they may be unable to implement environmental restrictions, leaving

ecosystems exposed to plunder. Armed conflicts frequently result in harm to natural resources

and ecosystems, which can lead to environmental catastrophe.

As a result, it is reasonable to argue that politics has a considerable influence on the

environment, and the two are inextricably linked. Decisions taken by political leaders and

governments may either preserve or destroy the environment. Political decisions can have an

influence on agreement negotiation and execution, funding for environmental programmes,

political stability and collaboration, and agreement enforcement. Citizens must participate in the

political process and push for policies that prioritize the environment and conserve it for future


Kashish Goel (JGLS 22)

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