The deterioration of the ecological situation in 60-70-ies led to the search for new concepts of environmental management and ways to improve environmental policy in many countries of Europe. The state efforts have resulted in the adoption of new environmental laws, like the general laws on the protection of nature, and those relating to the protection of air, water, land, forest, and other resources. The fundamental principle was “the polluter pays.” The public spending on research and development in the field of environmental protection has also Increased. Step by step, the private capital spending began to grow, particularly on creation of new treatment facilities.
Increased activities of various social movements could also be observed. In many countries, proenviromental parties acquired important position in the European Parliament, the National Assembly of France, the House of Commons of Great Britain, and the Bundestag, as well as in other parliaments. In the 1980’s, the parties and the environmentalist movements began to arise in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
The hierarchy of environmental programs and activities, including several interrelated levels, was created In Europe. The first of these is the district level. A striking example of this is North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany with a population of 18 million people, where a very large conservation program was implemented. Due to the program, more than 2000 industrial and other objects, representing mainly hazardous manufactures, have been upgraded. They have all been equipped with modern filters, sewage treatment facilities, and test equipment.
Switzerland, Austria, and some Mediterranean countries begin to adopt measures to enhance the efforts to save environment in the field of tourism and recreation areas. Among these measures, there are restrictions on tourists, decreasing the tension in the most overpopulated communities, the formation of networks of protected areas, the regulation of the traffic.
The second level is the national level. All the countries in Western Europe have long accepted the special environmental legislation.
In Germany, a special environment protection program was adopted, envisaging reducing the CO2 emissions by 25 percent up to 2005. Already by 2000, these emissions (with 36% of sources in oil and petroleum products, 21-20% in brown coal, hard coal and-23%-natural gas burning wastes) have been reduced by 15%. Almost all wastewater went through treatment facilities, as well as 90% agricultural waste, and 98% of gases emitted by cars were recycled. Such achievements have been made in two main areas of environmental protection.
First is the legislative. It is expressed in the fact that the German Constitution protects the rights of citizens to a healthy natural basis of life. In 1999, the law on environmental tax reform was enacted, aiming to establish a new tax on electricity consumption and an increased tax on the use of mineral oil.
Second is the technology. Recently, Germany has created Europe’s largest environmental industry, which employs about a million people. The country has become a leading global exporter of pollution-control equipment.
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