Free «Environmental Assessment of Canada and the European Union» Essay Sample

Environmental Assessment of Canada and the European Union

It is very important to study and compare the environmental safety problems in politics of the most advanced elements of the global international system, such as Canada and the European Union. This comparison will reveal the most and least effective approaches to environmental policy implementation, identify vulnerabilities of studied environmental planning, and may contribute to the development of recommendations for a universal concept of environmental security. There are various approaches of mitigating damage, facilitating developments, comparing alternatives, and identifying desirable options. One of the key methods of doing this is presented by environmental assessment, which has become popular in almost every part of the world. Currently, the methodology of environmental assessment is used in many countries. Not only individual countries but also international organizations are paying great attention to the EA as a progressive method of predicting and preventing environmental consequences of economic and other activities. “EIA regime was first determined in legal form in the USA in1969, then it was introduced in succession to many other countries” (Yanhua, Song, Hongyan, & Beibei, 2011, p.1499). Thus, Canada and the European Union also use this approach in their environmental policies. These both countries have a long history of cooperation towards resolving environmental issues. “Canada and the European Commission signed an exchange of letters on environmental cooperation” in 1975 (Government of Canada, 2013). The policies of Canada and the European Union are significantly similar in the field of environmental safety due to state priorities and, consequently, used approaches, particularly environmental assessment, which is based on public participation.

Environmental Security and Assessment

At the present stage, there is a tendency to the formation of an integrated measurement of environmental safety inherent to Canada and the European Union. Political decisions in the field of environmental security are inextricably linked and often even caused by economic factors. The need for environmental security is no less important factor of globalization than the development of information technology and the functioning of the global market. “Availability and accessibility of natural resources are fundamental conditions for ensuring human well-being and the functioning of global economies” (Mancini, Benini, & Sala, 3015, p.367).

“The assessment of the impact of environmental parameters on the sustainable development level of territories has paramount importance” (Glinskiy, Serga, & Khvan, 2016, p.626). For the past decades, environmental assessment has become useful in reaching the minimization and compensation of the environmental impact. “Several environmental tools and approaches such as Life Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Risk Assessment have been developed to identify the opportunities for reduction of environmental impacts and risks of projects, processes, products, and services” (Manuilova, Suebsiri, & Wilson, 2009, p.4511). According to Karkoszka (2015), preventing the occurrence of the threats should be based on the formal systemic directives (p.147). Despite specific difficulties and limitations, EA is considered to be crucial in integrating environmental consequences. It provides a number of benefits. EA gives the opportunity of managing the effects by considering potential mitigation measures during the project planning cycle. Moreover, environmental assessment improves project design and planning. It contributes to the reduction of mission costs through early recognition of potentially unexpected impacts. EA integrates social, environmental, and economic considerations. It gives the opportunity for public debate about the direction and nature of development. Furthermore, environmental assessment facilitates environmental education. In Canada, in recent years (especially in connection with a number of accidents caused by man-made and natural causes), there is considerable interest in the evaluation of existing and potential negative effects on the environment, the part of local authorities, governments, and the public. The community tries to recognize the danger and determine the degree of impact of existing and planned industrial facilities on health and the environment.

Most countries of the European Union as well as Canada successfully perform the unification of Environmental Impact Assessment. They undertake activities that are aimed at the identification and prediction of interference or intervention results in the bio-geophysical environment and the related impact on the health and welfare of the people. In addition, the countries compile and disseminate information on the impact of human activities. The purpose of an EIA is the environmental rationale for the projected activities and the ways of its implementation, identifying methods and means of normalizing the environment, and ensuring ecological safety. Materials on the impact assessment (EIA) are required by section in the design documentation for new construction, expansion, reconstruction, and technical re-equipment of objects.

EIA materials are provided as the part of the project documentation by the authorized state bodies for peer review and should comprehensively characterize an assessment of impacts on the natural, social, including the livelihoods of the population, and man-made environment and substantiate the admissibility of the proposed activity. The purpose of EA in the EU and Canada is determining the feasibility and acceptability of the proposed activity and justification of economic, technical, organizational, health, public-legal, and other measures to ensure environmental safety. The EA procedure both in Canada and the European Union includes the fullest possible involvement of the public to address the issue of organization of certain economic activities at a very early stage. This is done not for satisfying the ambitions of individual leaders of civil society organizations in general, but providing the conflict-free and successful implementation of scheduled activities and achievements of the respective business or other purposes. This EIA also provides the first step in its conduct of ensuring transparency and comprehensibility for the public process of collecting and analyzing the information connected with the implementation of the business side. The environmental assessment of the EU and Canada provides a mechanism for comments, suggestions, and demands of the public, as well as consideration, analysis, and structural calculation, which eventually leads to the direct involvement of the active part of the public to take corresponding decisions on the planned activities. The ways of involving the public in the decision-making process are various. They include the official public hearings and informal meetigs, public councils, distributing printed information, press releases, and so on. The citizens freely and fully express their attitude to the projected actions.

Environmental Assessment in Canada

The pace of the world changes, the emergence of new problems, without which it is impossible to maintain competitiveness, lead to the necessity for radical change approaches to the assessment of future challenges and development of processing strategies, which are aimed at strengthening positions of the country. It should be done on the basis of the support of innovation and increase of the efficiency of the researches and development. Both national and regional Canadian authorities are well aware of the importance of the formation of long-term strategies development (Molnar & Kubiszewski, 2012, p.46).

Environmental assessment in Canada is regulated by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act that is the legislative base (Kirchhoff, Gardner, & Tsuji, 2013). The main purpose of EA is facilitating the resolution of conflicts between environmental protection and the development of industry, causing its damage. It is the alleged activity, including the implementation of the place, design characteristics, and scale. EA is a process that provides information about possible environmental effects, allowing better integration of social, cultural, environmental, and economic considerations. The Government of Canada adopted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in order to promote a secure environment and stable economy (Manuilova, Suebsiri, & Wilson, 2009, p.4512). The steps of the EA include scoping, analysis, mitigation, determining significance, and follow-up.

The volume and rate of growth of global interdependence lead to the emergence of new threats and improvement of its diversity. A particular concern is caused by factors such as poverty, inherent in the whole regions, transformation of the economy, social non-equality, high unemployment, spread of mass destruction weapons, migration, natural disasters, destruction of the ecosystem, and increasing competition for land, water and other natural resources. The ability of the state to protect the population in the face of these threats is reduced, which makes the country look for new ways to ensure adequate security. Based on these expected trends, the important global issues that have direct relevance to Canada can be highlighted.

The great role in environmental assessment is played by public organizations. The most prominent environmental non-government organizations include Canadian network of environmental groups, the Canadian Environmental Protection Fund, Canadian Society in support of Parks and Wildlife Service, and others. Very effective intergovernmental cooperation is the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment.

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Natural resource management and environmental protection in Canada are performed at the federal and provincial levels. At the federal level, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the implementation of environmental policy. In addition to the administrative divisions, it includes meteorological service, office parks, conservation of renewable resources (water, land, and wildlife resources), service, dealing with environmental education, and others. The scope of the provincial ministries includes issues of developing the use of different natural resources, environmental regulation of economic activities of industrial and agricultural enterprises, and collection of taxes and other payments for the use of natural resources. The administrative management tools include environmental quality standards, the environmental license for the construction, and government decrees against violators of environmental legislation. The market mechanisms encompass taxes, charges for the use of resources, payments for pollution, grants, insurance against unforeseen environmental emergencies, and direct trade tolerance to environmental pollution.       

Environmental policy in the country is officially presented by the activities of the Green Party of Canada. Green Party of Canada is an organization that is independent of other green parties that exist around the world. The policy of the party aims to support the greening of the economy, progressive social planning, and responsible governance to society. The high life expectancy in Canada is often noted. Certainly, this proves the effectiveness of environmental policy and the high level of the Canadian environment in general.

The national program Green Plan is an effective approach that provides such direction of environmental activities as the protection of the atmosphere, water and soil, ecologically sustainable use of renewable natural resources, protection of protected natural areas, preservation of the complex of the northern territories, and minimization of the effects of emergencies in ecological character. “Canada recognizes that carbon pricing is one of the most effective policy measures to drive climate action and the transformation of global energy systems towards cleaner alternatives” (Government of Canada, 2015). Environmental organizations in Canada, such as Parks Canada, are acting on the principle of integration of parks in the surrounding landscape. This takes into account many factors, including the historical, which implies the former inhabitants of these lands such as indigenous peoples, leading to the close nature of the lifestyle. Therefore, the features of the environmental policy of Canada should cover not only numerous environmental programs and projects but also the activities of environmental groups that actively participate in environmental assessment.

Environmental Policy of the European Union

Similarly to Canadian environmental priorities, the main directions of green policy of the European Union include increased focus on ecological issues, transition from mentioning of environmental problems in the EU papers to the adoption of extensive special acts and action programs. Moreover, the EU strengthens environmental guidelines in a number of other policies devised and supported by the EU, its institutions, and member countries. The European Union establishes special structures to meet the challenges of environmental policy and control in this area and increases the scale of financing of environmental measures.

Alike Canadian policy, the main tasks of the environmental policy of the EU are preservation, protection, and improvement of the environment, contribution to the protection of human health, achievement of prudent and rational utilization of natural resources, and promotion at international level measures relating to inter-regional and global environmental problems (European Union, n.d.). In general, environmental policy of the EU in the fieeld of environmental protection and rational environmental management is defined as aimed at achieving a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in various regions of the EU. The codes of EU environmental policy include the principles of preventive action, compensation for damage to the environment, mainly through the elimination of its sources, and the principle of payment of damage. In addition, the policy is based on the principles of selecting the best possible protection of the environment, according to which member states may impose more stringent measures. This set of principles is not exhaustive. According to JNCC (2015), “the EU has specific targets for biodiversity conservation with legislative protection for key habitats and species.”

As well as Canadian policy, the EU environmental policy should consider a variety of green problems in different regions of the European Union, as well as the potential benefits and costs of the received acts or omissions based on precautionary and preventive principles to stimulate the balanced economic and social development of the regions. European laws and action programs are adopted after consultation with the Committee of the Regions, Economic and Social Committee. There are various areas of assessment. Particularly, there is the European Directive on the Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise that is aimed at establishing exposure to environmental noise (Kephalopoulos, et al., 2014, p.400). The states shall finance and implement a number of similar laws and acts adopted by the EU policy in the field of environment.

The European Union and Canada implement their own policies in the field of environmental protection. Large-scale activities of environmental nature were performed. The legal framework is created for management and coordination of environmental action by member states of the EU. Thus, the EU adopted a law on the establishment of the European Environment Agency, whose task is environmental impact assessment in Europe. The European Environment Agency was established as an organ of the interaction of politicians and scientists, whose responsibilities include the coordination of resources available in the EU. National environmental agencies and ministries provide data on the prescribed form by the Agency. On a competitive basis, the Agency supports research and analytical networks projects, i.e. existing institutions and the private sector advisors. Collected data are distributed by the Agency in the form of periodic reports on the state of the environment. The European Environment Agency collects information in Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, and North Africa. It includes CORINE (Coordination of Information on the Environment), created by the European Community Commission (CEC). The objective of the European Environment Agency and the European network of environmental information and environmental observation is obtaining objective, reliable, and comparable data of interested sides for the formation and implementation of European and national environmental policy. The European Environment Agency acts as an intermediary between the providers and consumers of information and produces comprehensive information that helps guide and use environmental activities.

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The aim of the EU Directive is to introduce a single EA procedure for any construction projects that may pose a threat to the environment because of the scale of the project or the place of its execution. All projects are divided into two classes. The first class includes projects that are subjected to compulsory assessment of the impact (oil refineries, power plants, chemical plants, radioactive waste storage facility, and others). The countries that have signed the directive must adhere to the general requirements. However, each state is free to choose forms and means for the implementation of directives.

Limitation of Public Participation in EA

Despite the fact that Canada and the EU declared the provisions on account of public opinion, the lack of procedures and rules for public involvement in the process of the assessment leads to the fact that these rules do not apply. As a result, the public is most often simply not informed of the decisions that may increase ecological danger. There is also a possibility of the subjective approach. Some public organizations can be interested in minimizing the cost of funds for the implementation of the proposed activities, may diminish environmental risks activity, and exaggerate its social benefits. The public participation is also constrained by the fact that in the EU and Canadian laws, funding is not provided for the holding of public hearings, an independent public environmental review, and informing through the media. Moreover, the EU laws envisage public involvement in expressing own opinions in the development of the EA. However, appropriate mechanisms in many countries are either underdeveloped or formal and have no practical implementation. In addition, demonstrating passivity in this matter, the public endangers the functioning of a natural ecosystem, favorable sanitary, and hygienic conditions. Although there are limitations of public participation in the EA processes, Canadian and European laws work on the improvement of possible methods of public influence. Public participation at all stages of the development of EA in Canada and the EU is necessary due to the implementation of legally enshrined rights to a healthy environment and awareness of the environment.

Conclusion

A significant part in solving environmental problems in recent years belongs to the European Union and Canada. Canada and the EU are the world leaders in the field of international environmental cooperation. Their policies and activities are inextricably linked with global activities in the field of environmental assessment. Environmental assessment is one of the priorities of the policies of the EU and Canada. Both countries successfully implement the approach of environmental assessment into their policies. The main similarity consists in the high public participation. Despite some disadvantages of the public participation, it has proved its effectiveness in the environmental assessment policies of Canada and the European Union. Environmental impact assessment has already evidenced its importance in Canadian and European environmental polices as a tool for implementing and strengthening sustainable development. It has become the main instrument of the integrated approach to environmental protection, as it requires a comprehensive assessment of the impact of any activity on the environment. The important role to be played by the public at the present stage of development is emphasized by the inclusion of provisions in the need to inform and consult with the public in the majority of legal norms in the field of environmental protection.

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