Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Limitations of International Law Principles in Achieving Global Environmental Commitments

Words: 1197
Pages: 3
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

International law does not effectively protect the global environment and therefore needs to be strengthened in many ways. The first reason as to why it is ineffective, is due to the fact that there are no official authority there to uphold the laws and therefore there are no consequences to those who do not follow. The policies that are put in place will theoretically work, but only if all countries agree to the conditions and targets and do their part in environmental protection. Unfortunately as they are only policies and are not legally binding, it is not compulsory for all countries to follow, they have the ability to pull out of these agreements at any time. The economic growth of the planet as a whole brings added carbon emissions (CO2) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) into the atmosphere and to balance this growth in a way that limit production of CO2 and GHG it is vital for there to be some form of compromise.

The aim of international environmental law is to control pollution and the depletion of natural resources, and protect the global environment. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC), the global environment is defined as; ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities, natural and physical resources, the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas, the social, economic and cultural aspects of any of the above and the heritage values of places. This act specifically aims to conserve biodiversity, provide a streamline environmental assessment and approvals process where matters of national environmental significance are involved, and to promote ecologically sustainable development. In order to adequately protect the environment, it is important to maintain the Earth’s biodiversity. Biodiversity strengthens a range of ecosystem services. Strong, well-functioning ecosystems, freshwater, terrestrial and marine, are important for a productive and healthy environment. Complete ecosystems provide habitat for humans, native plants and animals, and provide fundamental resources such as clean water for drinking, fertile soils and oceans for production. If the biodiversity of our planet is not improved, or maintained at the very least, the way in which everything functions will fail and society will collapse within itself. If a small fraction of the way in which the world is biologically diverse, changes significantly, the rest of the world will feel a chain reaction of the near irreversible effects. An example of this is the increasing amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. This is the Greenhouse Effect (GHE). The GHE is caused when the radiation from the sun reflects onto the Earth, warming it up. The Earth then also reflects some rays back into space, but because of the addition greenhouse gasses, the radiation is trapped within the Ozone layer, ultimately heating up the Earth further. If the rate of CO2 and other GHG continues to grow at the same pace it will eventually not only destroy flora and fauna, as they will struggle to adapt to the new conditions and will eventually die, wiping out entire species.

To increase the chances of saving the environment, there needs to be official authority and laws in place. Having strict rules and regulations to live by with the threat of consequences from higher authority, leaves countries with no choice but to change their actions into ones that will protect the environment rather than the economy. Introducing laws that require countries to adopt climate change policies will therefore create environmental protection across the globe, reversing the effects of previous destruction.

One policy introduced at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is the Kyoto Protocol. This initiative is an international agreement between developed nations created to lower greenhouse gas emissions. It was based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This means that it acknowledges that each individual country has a different standard of capabilities when combating climate change and therefore puts the responsibility of limiting carbon emissions onto those countries that are economically developed and are technically responsible for the current levels of GHG already in the atmosphere. Those who agreed to the policy were each given targets to hit by the end of the set period. The first period in which this initiative was put into place was from 2008 to 2012, where 37 countries made a binding commitment to reduce GHG emissions to an average of five percent against 1990 levels. In this first period, the parties involved in the protocol reduced their CO2 emissions by 12.5%, well beyond the original target of 4.7% set for 2012. This was clearly a successful movement, therefore there is no reason for every country to make this same binding commitment.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

Another policy is the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is a long term temperature goal, aiming to limit the increase of the global average temperature to 1.5 °C. In doing so the risks and impacts of climate change will be reduced considerably. Each country must plan and regularly report on the contribution they make in alleviating the effects of global warming. There is nothing forcing a country to make a target by a certain date, however, each target set must beyond the efforts of the previous. Studies have shown that if countries take on no responsibility in reducing emissions then the global temperature will drop by only 0.01°C change by 2050 whereas if those involved were to continue their commitment at this current level, the global temperature would drop between 0.6 to 1.1°C. These numbers do not add up with the goal of the agreement as by 2100 warming will increase by approximately 3°C, (double that of the intended goal). So, even though there is evidence that these policies work, without penalties or economic pressure to comply with these movements, it is clear that there will be a further increase in the effects of global warming within the coming years.

Climate change expert and former NASA scientist, James Hansen, expressed his frustration in regards to the lack of firm commitment involved in the Paris Agreement and says the agreement consists of “no action, just promises”. Hansen believes that the only way to resolve the issue of the excessive release of CO2 emissions is to apply a carbon tax across the globe, forcing emissions to decrease significantly to protect the economy and effectively avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

It is unrealistic to assume that the world’s largest producers of pollution are willing to limit their carbon use voluntarily and without some form of binding enforcement mechanism measuring and controlling these emissions. Without a system in which there are penalties and economic pressure, such as a carbon tax, it will be impossible to reverse or limit the effects of global warming.

There needs to be legally binding agreement across all countries in which there are consequences, deadlines and realistic goals where each country can not only reach, but go beyond in order to balance the abilities of each party with the urgency of the issue. By tackling this issue, the biodiversity of the planet will also be saved. To add onto this, there needs to be added laws and regulations when it comes to protected areas and species of flora and fauna.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Limitations of International Law Principles in Achieving Global Environmental Commitments. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Limitations of International Law Principles in Achieving Global Environmental Commitments.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
Limitations of International Law Principles in Achieving Global Environmental Commitments. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2023].
Limitations of International Law Principles in Achieving Global Environmental Commitments [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Feb 01 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.