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Credit: Chiang Mai Citylife

It is easy to blame the government for a lack of bans, but responsibility also lies in the will of the people, or lack thereof. Without a public outcry for stricter regulations, plastic bans remain elusive. Part of the problem stems from a lack of education, the laissez faire attitude of so many and the fact that there are many people who do not know the extent and dangers of plastic pollution. Dr. Sate Sampattagul is a researcher and professor at Chiang Mai University in the faculty of engineering. “Many people don’t understand how bad the situation is that we are facing,” he said, and explains that his research evaluates environmental impacts. “Research alone can only do so much. We need someone to bridge research with government policy,” he suggested. “To make a project you need to push really hard to get it started,” he said.

The hope from all these groups is that the efforts of the few will be adopted by the many. Bringing about a cultural norm of caring for the environment over convenience in the moment may be the best way to evoke lasting change. As Pradorn maintained, “I mostly work with individuals. Saying I work with the government or with the municipality is too small. Actually, there is no power there. You want to connect with something deeper.”

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Cruise companies have been encouraged to improve their environmental policies and introduce more clean technology. Photograph: Enrique Calvo/Reuters

 

Environmental standards for shipping are so low, cruise companies have a huge opportunity to improve their policies

Not many of the 25 million people enjoying the sea breeze on a cruise ship this year are likely to think about the air pollutants being emitted from the vessel.

Mostly running on heavy fuel oil, a medium-sized cruise ship produces around the same volume of air pollutants – including greenhouse gases, sulphur, nitric oxides and particulate matter – as 5m cars going the same distance, estimates the German environmental NGO Nabu.

“The standards for the shipping industry are really low compared to what we can see in road transport,” says Dietmar Oeliger, head of environmental policy at Nabu. “For a long time, politics served it well. People didn’t care about emissions on open water.”

Most countries devolve responsibility for regulating the industry to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), says Tristan Smith, shipping and climate change expert at University College London. He adds that many smaller countries do not have the resources to regulate it themselves and some choose not to restrict it – after all, the industry is a boon to local economies, bringing in tourists and providing jobs.

 

Read more about sustainable sea travel by following this link. By Sarah Shearman.

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