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    INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGIME The Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil, in June 1992 was another landmark international meet on the environment. Officially the UN Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED), it was attended by representatives from 178 countries and 115 heads of government. It was held to highlight the consequences reckless development, which, among other things, had led to the destruction of large parts of the rainforests in Brazil, and to devise strategies to combat the ecological disaster. Key issues the key issues at the summit included greenhouse gas emissions, forests, population, technology transfer and finance. There were also, in fact, issues that divided the North and the South, or the developed countries and the developing countries. Greenhouse gas emission: The North wanted a shift from coal and wood for energy to stabilize by 2000 the levels of emission of carbon dioxide at 1990 levels. On the other hand, the South blamed the rich nations for excessive use of fossil fuels that was leading to high emissions, and wanted the countries to cut down on the consumption. Forests: The North wanted forests to be made a common heritage of the world through legally binding convention to restrict deforestation in tropical countries rich in biodiversity. However, the South insisted that such a step would violate national sovereignty. Population: The North wanted population control in the South as a measure to check deforestation and pollution, while the South blamed the developed countries for consuming over 50 per cent of the world's energy Technology transfer: Asserting that technology development was commercial activity, the North wanted countries that wanted to use it to pay up, but the South insisted that environment - friendly technology had to be transferred cheaply. ARE a Finance: The issue was who would pay for cleaning up the mess caused by pollution. -The North wanted the costs to be shared among all countries, while the South wanted the “polluter must pay principle to be followed. Outcome the major outcomes of the Earth Summit of 1992 were the Rio Declaration, the Convention on Climate Change, and the Declaration on Forest Conservation, Agenda 21 and the Biodiversity Treaty Rio Declaration: The Rio Declaration, also called the Earth Charter, is a statement of principles that set out the rights and obligations of all nations in relation to the environment. It is only morally binding, not legally binding. Convention on Climate Change: The Convention on Climate Change, also known as the Climate Convention, was a commitment, signed by 150 countries, including the USA, to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. It is legally binding on the signatories. However, it neither fixes any deadline for reducing the emissions nor calls for any immediate change in fuel used. It merely states that the ultimate objective of the agreement was to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. It is worded in broad and general terms, thereby providing the signatories flexibility in implementation strategies. Environmental Law Declaration on Forest Conservation: It contains principles for the conservation of forests across the world. It was adopted at the summit, but it is not a legally binding convention.


    INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGIME The United Nations Conference on Human Environment 1972 was a remarkable achievement as 114 participating nations agreed generally on a declaration of principles and an action plan. After an initial conflict between the need to prevent pollution and conserve nature on the one hand, and the stress on social and economic development on the other, the conference evolved the concept that environmental protection was an essential element of social and economic development. It was agreed that environmental protection and development were inseparable, and were, in fact, two sides of the same coin. The Stockholm Declaration emphasizes that the world has just one environment. It states that man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well - being. Man bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present generations.

  • TAJ TRAPEZIUM CASE M. C. Mehta v Union of India AIR 1997 SC 734

    ISSUES AIR POLLUTION Activist-lawyer M. C. Mehta fought a long and arduous battle over the pollution caused by industries in the vicinity of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, which were causing damage to the famous monument, especially from the Mathura refinery. Mehta moved the Supreme Court in 1984, claiming that the Sulphur dioxide released by the Mathura refinery combined with oxygen and moisture in the air to produce sulphuric acid in the atmosphere, which was corroding the white marble of the Taj Mahal. The petitioner also claimed that brick kilns, vehicular traffic and generator sets were also responsible for polluting the ambient air around the Taj, and that the white marble had yellowed and blackened in places. There were ugly brown and black spots at some places in the monument, Mehta also alleged. In his ruling, Justice Kuldip Singh observed that the Taj was not only a cultural heritage, but was an industry by itself since over two million tourists visit every year. It is a source of revenue for the country. The apex court created a Taj Trapezium,' which consists of 10,400 square kilometers of area roughly in the shape of a trapezium around the Taj. This was done to regulate the activities in the region so that pollution could be controlled. Industries were asked to shift to eco-friendly fuel and reduce the use of diesels generators. The Government of Uttar Pradesh was asked to improve power supply to the city so that the use of diesel generators could be reduced. Tanneries operating from Agra were asked to shift from the trapezium, The Central Pollution Control Boards and the UP Pollution Control Board were asked to monitor the quality of air and report the same to the court. The apex court also asked the government to take steps to undo the damage to the environment and the white marbles at Taj and to undertake cleaning up operations.

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