We live in a world in which we are bound to environmental and economic effects that transcend national borders. The huge increase in globalization has led to greater recognition of the need to address this different problems. Environmental law is a set of laws, principles, policies, directives and regulations promulgated and applied by local, national or international entities to regulate the human treatment of the non-human world, in other words, nature. During the late twentieth century, environmental law developed from a complement to public health regulatory law in an almost universally recognized independent field that protects both, human health and non-human nature.
Environmental law is the group of legal norms that are supported by an ecological substratum, are rules and principles that have been established to protect the environment from human beings.
Environmental law consists of establishing the legislations, regulations and controls that must be applied to achieve the environmental conservation and preservation, since the environment is considered the only place in which human beings are capable of carrying out their own existence.
Among the main characteristics we can mention the following:
The legal nature of environmental law does not follow an autonomous system of closed order since this law branch has been introduced into society through great changes that have arisen from it over time. It is for this reason that its principles, techniques and objectives as well as its legal nature; have their foundation in general international law, in the differences that exist between States.
Since ancient times there have been different ways of regulating the environment and punishing those who harm it. Before this time, there is no record that there was a law that protected the environment. As time goes by, it is understood that natural resources can become depleted and for this reason, the human being becomes aware of the importance of these, so they start to take measures to regulate its use. In the first phase, the law took agreements with respect to the environment. After the Second World War, the world became aware of environmental issues.
History can be divided into three different stages having a mid-point with the Stockholm Conference and the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Other aspects that influenced the history of environmental rights are for example: the silent spring that was responsible for laying the foundations of environmentalism today, the Stockholm conference that gave all its attention, the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol that fights climate change.
The main objectives of environmental law are to maintain adequate pollution control and the conservation and management of resources. Its laws look for ways to protect and to take care of the environment and at the same time, human health. They also take care of the economic aspect of environmental laws through the prevention of externalities that occur today, and those that could occur in the future.
The sources of environmental law are all the human actions that participate in the environmental degradation causing a decrease in the species in an area or making their quality of life worse through human action. The sources of law are not found concretely in the constitution, but a right is named for citizens who are interested in their country.
The fundamental principles of environmental law are as follows:
The purpose of environmental law in most countries is to protect people’s health, to control environmental pollution and to protect the environment of the social and productive sector.
The greatest importance of environmental law is to guarantee the planet’s sustainability and it is seen as a present and future society’s right. It is a right and a duty of every citizen to protect the natural resources necessary for life.
Ecuador considers nature as a legal objective, making this country the first to recognize the nature’s rights for its care and preservation. In Spain, the Spanish Constitution establishes that all people can enjoy the environment, but that they must also conserve it in order to protect and improve its quality of life. In Mexico, the constitution says that everyone can enjoy the environment, but that the State also guarantees the respect that must be given to it, and that any environmental damage will have its responsibilities in accordance with the law.