What are the areas in the environment

Environmental policy

1 Introduction

Environmental protection is the sum of all organized actions to identify and solve environmental problems. Environmental policy (Up) is that part of these actions in which state actors - exclusively or partially, nationally or internationally - are involved. This new policy area emerged in the economically developed countries at the beginning of the 1970s. In the meantime, Up. spread worldwide. Today there are environmental ministries in over 100 countries. At the same time, Up takes place. also at local, regional and European level as well as in a global context. Here, too, a large number of institutions have emerged whose field of activity is environmental protection. At the same time, environmental protection is i. S. the change towards resource and environmentally friendly processes and products has become an important economic factor.

2. Environmental protection as a state task

Today, environmental protection is an essential core function of state policy and is anchored as a state task in most of the world's constitutions (in D Art. 20a GG). This state function is a reaction to ecological challenges and external environmental effects of industrial development, where the market as a control mechanism has failed. In addition, there is an active social demand for Up. With a degree of organization that in some OECD countries comes close to that of the interests of capital and labor, environmental concerns are among the central social interests that the state has to take into account (Bundeszentrale 2008).

Beyond ecological and social justifications, there are also economic reasons for the state to take action in environmental protection. This applies to the avoidance and reduction of macroeconomic and microeconomic damage costs: Without the water protection of the past, production sites (chemical companies, waterworks) on lower rivers would often have had to be abandoned. Without air pollution control, forest dieback would have taken on catastrophic forms, considerable health costs, but also costs such as corrosion would have arisen. Without climate protection, extremely high damage effects can be expected. However, environmental protection is also of economic importance because - in the sense of "green growth" - it has increasingly become a dimension of technical progress and innovation competition between the developed industrialized countries (OECD 2011). At the same time, the track record of environmental protection since 1970 shows that the state response to ecological challenges was fundamentally sensible and also successful in a wide range of environmental pollution. On the other hand, there are considerable unsolved (persistent) ecological problems of climate change, land consumption, species loss or groundwater and marine pollution, which make it clear that the importance of environmental protection and the importance of state environmental protection measures have by no means diminished (see SRU 2008 ).

3. General development of German environmental policy

D is an industrialized country whose most environmentally intensive sectors (such as energy, road transport, chemicals, construction) showed particularly high growth in the post-war period. The environmental problems associated with this development had become more acute than in other highly developed industrialized countries. The introduction of the new policy field Up. the Brandt / Scheel government nevertheless came as a surprise.

The institutionalization of the new policy field began with the introduction of federal competence for important areas of environmental protection (excluding nature and water protection, areas that were only given federal competence with the federal reform of 2006), the establishment of the Federal Environment Agency (1974) and parallel institutions such as the Advisory Council for Environmental Issues (1971). In contrast to other industrialized countries - and even the → GDR - the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety was founded relatively late (1986) in the wake of the Chernobyl reactor accident (Pehle 1998; Müller 1995; BMU 2006). The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation was only set up in 1993. In 2001, the introduction of a German strategy for sustainable development led to the establishment of further institutions.

As in some other industrialized countries, legal regulations for air pollution control and water protection in Germany go back to the 19th century. Nature conservation was enshrined in law as early as 1935, and state laws on air pollution control existed as early as the 1960s. However, important laws only emerged with the start of the new policy and its institutional anchoring at the federal level after 1969: the waste disposal law (1972), the The Federal Immission Control Act (1974), the Federal Nature Conservation Act (1976), the (revised) Water Management and Wastewater Tax Act (1976) and the Chemicals Act (1980) form further cornerstones of German environmental legislation. The Federal Soil Protection Act (1998), which was passed with a long delay, forms the last important law relating to the environmental media of water, soil and air.

The development of the Up. As a result, it increasingly took place in the further development and differentiation of the previous → legislation and with the adoption of EU law. With the Recycling and Waste Management Act (1994), principles of avoidance and recycling were placed at the center of waste policy. The modernization of federal nature conservation (2002), which was postponed for a long time, enshrined, among other things, the collective action for environmental associations and the systematic expansion of contiguous nature conservation areas to secure valuable biotopes in the sense of the EU program "Natura 2000". A break with the previous policy was the legal regulation of 2002 to phase out nuclear energy, which - after its temporary repeal (2010) - has now been anchored across parties after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan in 2011.

As in other industrialized countries, the forms of control were also subject to the German Up. since 1970 a strong change. Was the up. Initially exclusive activity of the state, the spectrum of actors involved has become more and more differentiated: In addition to the multitude of levels of action (global, European, national, regional, local), today it is about the broad participation of important organized interests (so-called stakeholders). On the one hand, this applies to the greater personal responsibility of companies, without the z. B. an innovation-oriented environmental protection is unthinkable. On the other hand, the expansion of the spectrum of actors is about broadening the social basis on which a demanding Up who intervenes in interests. is instructed. Environmental governance therefore takes place increasingly in cooperation relationships, often in a broad network of state and non-state actors (Jänicke / Jacob 2006).

The Up. has become more and more diverse. While sovereign legislation with binding standards, approval procedures and command and control was initially the focus, it became clear that the rapidly growing density of this type of regulation threatened to overwhelm the state and the willingness of the policy addressees affected by the regulations to follow suit. Regulatory instruments that allow greater scope for adjustment and mobilize more responsibility on the part of the polluters are therefore becoming increasingly important. This applies to emissions trading in climate protection, which requires binding upper limits for pollutant emissions, but allows flexible adaptation. The German instrument of feed-in tariffs for electricity from renewable energies, which has meanwhile been imitated by more than 60 countries, is another example. The continuing importance of binding state regulations is also evident from the fact that new instruments of this type - albeit those with a high degree of flexibility - are spreading internationally. A particularly impressive example is the Japanese top runner approach, in which the most economical product - the top runner - is set as a binding standard for 23 energy-consuming products. Modern Up. usually controls via a mix of instruments or via strategic, verifiable targets that are pursued with flexible use of instruments. The "hard" instruments retain their importance - not least as a guarantee that "softer" instruments actually achieve effects (Jänicke et al. 2003).

4. Capacity to act in environmental policy

By their very nature, continuity and discontinuity in the development of environmental policy are largely determined by changes of government. In D there is a marked path dependency of this - mostly party-spanning - development. However, important environmental policy innovations were almost always associated with changes of government. From the beginning, the development of environmental policy was also integrated into an international context. International guidelines such as those of the UN conference in Stockholm (1972) and a process of lesson drawing and policy diffusion emanating from pioneering countries such as the USA, Sweden or Japan played an essential role.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Martin Jänicke