Environmental law

The statue of JustitiaClick to enlarge
The purpose of environmental law is to implement environmental protection.
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Environmental law comprises all norms designed to protect the environment. The protective laws related to installations, environmental media and substances (pollution control law, water law, soil protection law, waste law, chemicals law) make up the core of environmental law.

The core area of environmental law also includes higher ranking environmental norms (for example, international environmental law, the relevant provisions of EU law, Article 20a of the Basic Law (Germany’s constitution)), cross-cutting legislation (in Germany: Environmental Impact Assessment Act, Environmental Information Act, Environmental Appeals Act, Environmental Damage Act), and environmental criminal law.

Environmental protection provisions are increasingly being integrated into the law governing specific sectors (for example, energy, agriculture, mining, building or planning) which does not have environmental protection as its original regulatory purpose. The UBA develops proposals for environmental protection provisions in these fields of law.

Climate protection and resource conservation law are new fields of law which embrace classical environmental law as well as numerous legal domains and individual laws which while not forming part of environmental law can nevertheless do their bit to protect the environment. Resource conservation and climate protection are the overarching goals which allow these heterogeneous regulations to be systematically combined into, respectively, a resource conservation law and a climate protection law. By establishing general resource conservation and climate protection laws, overarching protection goals and procedures can be regulated in a consistent way.

Accompanying all of these norms is the basic question of better environmental regulation and better implementation of environmental law. In Germany, the “big solution” – creation of an Environmental Code – has, unfortunately, failed.