Disclaimer: Readers have to have a basic understanding of the movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them for a few reasons: 1) Why not? and 2) I need a way to start this article, so I decided to use the movie’s context as… inspiration.
Point of view: You’re Newton Artemis Fido Scamander (he does not need a name that long), and because you’re a movie’s protagonist you are bored with the world’s fantastic beasts, you think about the wellbeing of aforementioned beasts. Though your magical habitats for them are doing quite well, you wonder about their real habitats. With the recent climate crisis, are the habitats being well taken care of, just like your pets? Or are they being affected by pollution and the usual effects of climate change? How is society treating them? And because, both your brother and girlfriend happen to be in relations with the Ministry, you decide to investigate some climate laws around the world.
Let’s start in France. Last year, France had one of the lowest intensities of power carbon emissions in Europe. Compared to other countries, most of France’s carbon emissions originate from its power sector. However in 2021, its emissions were estimated to be around 32 metric tons of carbon dioxide, 20 million lesser tons than what was recorded in 2007. Although France’s power sector might be the main concern, the daily lifestyles of its citizens should be tackled too. Recently, France passed a law which created several bans and incentives on consumption, transportation and housing to help promote a greener society. For instance, high-polluting vehicles have to pay a higher fine if they breach the emissions limit of 184g/km CO2. It’s currently $22,240, compared to the old $14,000.
France has also banned many single-use plastic items, such as plates, cups, cotton buds and drinks bottles. It also aims to ban nearly all plastic packaging for food, like styrofoam containers, straws and cutlery, around this year, by passing a new law. All these measures are to encourage the French society to switch from single-use plastics to more eco-friendly alternatives.
You’re Newt again, and you would like to go to Asia, because you just remembered your past adventure in France, and the trauma drives you to go to… Thailand. 9390 km away, nothing bad can follow you. Except for climate change of course.
Thailand has good intentions and wishes to reduce its emissions by 20%. But, its overall climate performance is weak. According to Greenpeace, 75 billion plastic bags end up in Thailand’s waste annually, and half of it is from society’s hubs, like shopping malls or supermarkets. These bags are part of the 2 million tonnes of plastic waste that are generated solely by Thai consumers.
That being said, Thailand actually has a few laws in their country to drive its progress. As of 2022, it has banned four types of single-use plastics, including microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics. Thailand also established an initiative to halt the use of plastic bags. About 43 retailers in the country have joined this cause, convenience shops and department stores being part of them. They have all agreed to stop distributing free plastic bags to their buyers, to limit the amount of plastic citizens consume. Due to this, many Thai markets have started their own programmes that aim to reduce the usage of plastic bags.
Meanwhile, in Oceania, Palau is enforcing certain laws too. Similar to Thailand, Palau has high carbon emissions too, though mainly it’s from its imports. As a matter of fact, 85 - 90% of Palau’s food is imported from abroad, which not only consumes lots of money, but also produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide. Moreover, most of the food is packaged, leading to poor waste management in the country.
Yet facts don’t distract from hope. One of Palau’s gems are its rich marine ecosystems that hosts at least 400 species of hard coral, but due to rises in sea temperature, the corals have started to bleach. Thus, Palau has chosen to ban certain types of toxic sunscreen, which contains oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is commonly found in sunscreen because it absorbs ultraviolet light, however, unfortunately, it harms the resilience of corals and other kinds of marine life. Palau also has taken several conservation measures to protect its marine and coastal resources, for example, imposing permit fees and visitor limits for popular sites, to prevent degraded air quality or land clearing for tourism.
What about the world’s biggest countries? Like China, how are they coping? Predictably, both are among the biggest carbon emission contributors in the world, China alone contributing over 20% of the world’s emissions. Hence, due to their large carbon footprint, both countries have adopted many international and domestic mitigation strategies. To illustrate this point, China has enforced around 7 laws, like the Electric Power Law, which hopes to promote greener electric power for consumers, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution, which foresees the safeguarding of public health and decreasing sources of air pollutants, like motor vehicles and vessels. Both laws hope to reduce the emissions of transportation and irresponsible use of electricity.
In general, there is no specific law that works for every country. Every country has to draft their own plan, enforce their own law and there’s no one-fits-all policy. Hence, it’s important for all countries to recognize their most severe issues and create useful solutions against them. Both state and local action are helpful for federal laws, therefore, governments should listen to campaigns and protests. Each climate law passed is sewing together this collective armour which we need to fight against the climate crisis. But law is not the only thing important. Society also has a huge role to play. Everyone should obey each environmental law implemented, encourage a greener society whenever they can to avoid any environmental disaster. Prevention is better than cure. Il vaut mieux prévenir que guérir.กันไว้ดีกว่าแก้. 预防胜于治疗.