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Research Report

Focus Topic: Our impact on the environment

On this research report I'm going to focus long-term and short-term effects in the environment for instance water, air, temperature. What are some other ways to reduce carbon footprint, and renewable energy or alternative Power resources? If we don't act now this will have impact on both economics and society in our future.


Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the environment as a result of various events, organisations, human activities and others. It is very complicated to calculate the carbon footprint of any activity as there are inadequate calculations related to the measure. The carbon dioxide is also released by several natural resources and processes that alter the carbon dioxide footprint evaluation. Carbon emissions lead to a change in the climate of a place that highly disrupts the human activity of a place. In this study, laws related to carbon footprints are studied in detail using coarse theorem. Environmental liability that the carbon foot printing poses, its effect on population and the ways to control damages have been discussed in this study. This study seeks to analyse the various environmental issues in regards to carbon emissions in the environment. It uses the models of positive and normative economics in the light of its analysis. It also uses the Coase Theorem to look into the legal and economic issues of the carbon footprint. It can be found that the carbon emissions are posing to be a great threat to th environment however legal measures are being actively taken to reduce it.

1. Environmental law

a. Positive economics

Carbon footprint is defined as a measure of total carbon dioxide that is released during various processes, events by different organisations, products and others. The calculation and measure of carbon dioxide are difficult as there are several natural processes that also release carbon dioxide in their process. According to Bailis et al. (2015), carbon footprint can be evaluated by total carbon dioxide and methane released by a particular population, which takes into consideration all the processes, spatial boundary, sinks and boundaries within that area of interest. There are two sources by which, carbon footprints are calculated. These are direct and indirect sources. Direct sources are the one where the carbon is released by parent process wherein the final product of consumption is far away from it. Mancini et al. (2016), states that direct sources are sources where final product of consumption is delivered at the same place and these are emissions from a car, stove and others. Average carbon footprint in the UK per person is 13.8 ton (, 2019). The aspects that determine carbon footprint of a person are transport, food and shelter. In UK, carbon footprints are differentiated in two ways that are emission from the direct transport and the emissions that are created by secondary transports like air transport and others. It has been observed that, average carbon emission per person is 4 ton (, 2019).

Cause of Carbon Footprint:

Fossil fuels

Carbon emissions are primarily caused by burning of fossil fuels in the environment. Any human activity emits carbon dioxide. Electricity, which is provided to us every day, also comes from burning of fossil fuels. Increased need for electricity increases burning of fossil fuel that results in an increase in carbon dioxide. Freight trains that are used to transport materials and products also use burning of fossil fuels for its proper functioning (Kumar et al. 2014).


Modern lifestyle also poses a threat to carbon dioxide increase. Increased use of cars increases the emission of carbon dioxide. Bhoyar et al. (2014) stated that carbon dioxide emitted by petrol and diesel is 2.4 kg per litre which is immense in terms of total fuel burnt per day by automobiles. The increased use of electronics also increases amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. Processors used in devices also add carbon dioxide to the environment.

Industrial Revolution

The industrial era led to decline of trees that absorb carbon dioxide that was released into air. The industrial revolution led to a large consumption of fuels and processes that increased the carbon dioxide but, trees were cut down. This led to an increase in carbon dioxide (Newell and Vos, 2012).

Air Travel

Air transports emit a large amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. Emission by an aircraft per hour is 90kg (Weisz et al. 2015).
Effect of Carbon Footprint:

Greenhouse Gases

Human activities like transport, electricity and other activities have increased the number of greenhouse gases present in the environment. Transportation singly has led to an increase of 40% in the number of greenhouse gases.

Climate Change

There is a change in the climate due to increase in carbon dioxide of the environment. The sudden change of the climate of a place disrupts and harms the people. The glaciers have started to melt and there has been an increase in the sea levels due to the increase in carbon dioxide.

Destruction of Habitat

Nadoushani and Akbarnezhad (2015) described that the activities such as mining, building of roads and mining have led to the destruction of the natural habitats of many flora and fauna. The forests have been cut down to build the buildings, setting factories that have led to an increase in carbon dioxide of the place.

b. Normative economics

Earth's climate has been seen to change at a rapid rate due to an increase in the greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. 80% of the world's glacier is melting with an increase in the floods, hurricanes, heat waves and drought.Thorniley-Walker (2015), conversed that the increase in carbon dioxide is a major aspect that is leading to climate change throughout the world. The carbon dioxide that is left by the human activities stays in the atmosphere for a greater amount of time which is roughly around a hundred years. This should be taken in check and every local, international and national body must ensure that the level of carbon dioxide is not above the set standard level (Fang and Heijungs, 2014). The burning of fossil fuel is a great factor that has increased the carbon footprint in the world. The maximum carbon dioxide released into the environment is by burning of fossil fuels. The use and prevention of these can be achieved by the international agreement on fossil fuels taxes. It will make sure that the minimum amount of fossil fuel is burned. The countries must find ways by which they can minimise the per-capita consumption of fossil fuels. Liu et al. (2016) suggested that the individuals that have a high income and lifestyle must invest in the houses upgradation so that they use the minimum amount of energy and resources like using electric cars for the commute. c. Coase Theorem

The factor that motivates the market principle for creating emission markets is the Coase theorem. The Coase theorem refers to an economic and legal theory which operates in the environment where there is no transaction cost. An absence of transaction cost helps the organisations to reach a mutually beneficial output. The only involvement in the Coase theorem is the property asset of the organisations. Lai and Lorne (2015), described that the Coase theorem involves only two aspects, the first aspect involved in the Coase theorem is that the rights should be fully defined and the transactional cost involved is always zero. It has been seen that involvement of the property rights of an organisation makes the parties tend towards the most efficient outcomes. The Coase theorem in a way helps in creating a trading market for the emissions (Hanley, 2016). The organisation would be bound to ascertain emission per month. If emission rate is taken as 50 tons per month than the definition and property rights ensure that the organisation is held accountable for the less emission it emits. The lesser emission or the left out emission can be then, traded to the other organisations or individuals who actively act towards reducing the emissions.

Certain climate exchange market is created that is based on the approach that the reduction is done in a positive outlook, by the organisations. The markets allow the organisation to create the upper cap of the emission.

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Figure 1: Coase Theorem on Emissions
(Source: Medema, 2015)

This cap has a disadvantage that the cap has a probability of being manipulated by the political influence and therefore they are not secure enough. The rights should be well-defined and unchangeable so that it stands nonnegotiable of any manipulations. An instance of the benefit of the Coase theorem can be, there might be an organisation which has been allowed the rights of pollution to the environment around its factory (Sandmo, 2015). The town has agreed to pay the organisation a certain cost to reduce pollution to the environment. The organisation may not be ready to discuss the matter with the town and the people. This will lead to a situation where a legal method has to be used for confronting the company. The legal cost of the negotiation would be roughly £50,000 and if then also the organisation acts slowly then there is a high chance of breathing polluted air for a longer time. Coase theorem suggests that in the case, it would be better to leave out the negotiations and change the rights as negotiations would be much costly for the town than the cost of pollution to the area would cause.

The Coase Theorem considers zero transactional value in the market in order to create a co-dependent economic model which allows in the trade of emissions. This however is different from other models of economics in the case of transactional value and helps in ascertaining the value of carbon emissions n the same respect. Other economic models consider a more positive view and consider the transactional value of the carbon emissions in order to understand their significance and impact (Ellingsen and Paltseva, 2016).

Assessment on specific Issue

From this model we can also analyse the situation of the extreme impact of climate change on the environment. As per statistics it can be seen that the US has managed in reducing its carbon emissions since 2005 by 7% (, 2017). It can also be seen that electricity generation is one of the main sources of carbon emissions. In this context it can be viewed that China, the US, India and Russia are responsible for 28%, 15%, 6% and 5% of the world's carbon emissions respectively (, 2018). Compared to this, countries such as Turkey, France, Australia, and UK together contribute for about 4% of the total carbon emissions in the world (, 2018). In the light of this the countries with greater carbon emissions can engage in carbon emission trade with the countries who have lower carbon emissions in order to balance out the carbon emissions and resulting in the reduction of the carbon emission. This puts a positive effect on the economy as it helps in the countries to compete at a global level in order to reduce the carbon emissions.

2. Environmental liability

a. Jurisdictional allocation

The Committee for Climate Change conducts annual and periodic evaluations of the carbon levels in the country. This ensures that they are able to meet the carbon budget set by the government. The committee highly specialises in conducting assessments and producing reports of the current changes in the carbon level, by ignoring the natural fluctuations such as weather and other. Livermore and Revesz, (2014), states that the greatest amount of carbon dioxide that is contributed to the climate is by the burning of fossil fuels. The UK government is focused on making a move towards more cleaner, sustainable and renewable resource to produce electricity such as the wave and solar power energy. The UK government has committed to producing coal-free electricity by 2025. UK government has been successful in enacting an Act, which is the Climate Change Act, 2008. This act aims at improving the carbon management of the society and helps in a smooth transition from the higher carbon to lower carbon levels. The Act clearly shows that the UK is committed to taking its accountability in reducing greenhouse gases. The Committee on the Climate Change was also created as a part of this Act (Gray, 2016). This body's main aim of development was decreasing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and helping the government keep a check on the measures of carbon reduction (Teixidó-Figueras, and Duro, 2015).

The agricultural sector is the source of 9% of the total greenhouse gases produced in the UK. The government has been helping the agricultural sector in adopting the cost and energy efficient practices. This will help reduce the emissions of the UK by 72% in the coming years (Rajagopalan, 2015). The EU ETS is a body that is also made by the government of the UK. This body aims at keeping in check the greenhouse gases in the industrial sectors. The EU ETS covers approximately 11,000 industrial installations in the whole of Europe. These bodies include power stations, refineries and large manufacturing plants. The EU ETS in 2012 was expanded to the aviation industry. According to Gunningham and Sinclair (2017), these industries are the one that is held accountable for reducing the emissions of the environment by 50% before the year 2020. The UK government introduced mandate corporate reporting that allowed in providing transparency to the companies in reporting the emissions caused by them. The UK carbon budget is enacted by the government of the UK. This Act restricts the amount of carbon emission by the UK in the course of 5 years. The UK government relies on several bodies that would help it in reducing the emissions like the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Department for Transport and others (Asgari et al. 2015).

b. The lack of regulation in the international level

There have been several efforts in the domestic, international and national levels to control the emissions of greenhouse gases in the environment. In the local levels, there have been several laws and implementations in order to reduce the amount of emissions.

International environmental law framework: There is a body known as the international environmental law that aims at building laws, global treaties, conventions and regulations for protecting the natural resources from the adverse effect of human activities. The primary focus of international laws is to prevent degradation of the environment at international levels. The past few decades have been seen to increase the regulations, policies and conventions relating to the environment. Cullet (2017) stated that international laws have also been seen to exploit several financial and human resources without achieving the objectives yet.\

Constraints of achieving international environmental treaties to climate change:

The chief instruments that involve in addressing the climate change issue are the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol states that the countries should involve in decreasing and meeting the emission standards by the use of global laws and regulations. The Kyoto protocol also provides the parties to engage in trading activities to implement the laws which favour the emission. Two bodies were created by the Kyoto Protocol which is the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation. Several countries have been seen to criticise the Kyoto protocol. Many countries have signed the Kyoto Protocol but do not adhere to it. Danielsen et al. (2014) stated that the countries have failed several times to meet the set standards mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol. This made the Kyoto Protocol covering, only 22 % of the total emission. The Kyoto protocol had also set different standards for developing and developed countries. This also was not properly calculated and the countries never maintained the standards (Shishlov et al. 2015). The Kyoto Protocol is also criticised for its unclear measures and the lack of uncomplex tools for the implementation. The Kyoto protocol has created over complicated policies, tools that are ineffective.

3. The impact of pollution in the future and Major cause of damage

a. Example of climate change

The pollution and climate change are linked and they pose the greatest threat to mankind today. Climate change is the global change in the climate of Earth due to human activities. Climate change has greater impacts on the climate. Rising sea levels and extreme meteorological phenomena have been linked to climate change. Climate change has negative effects on social and economic aspects too.
According to Harrison (2015), pollution and climate change are both a result of the current energy model. The burning of fuel is increasing CO2 emissions throughout the environment, leading to global warming. There are also pollutants like NO and NO2, SO and SO2 that contaminate the air. Climate change causes immense damage to society in terms of drought, deforestation, extinction of flora and fauna and diseases. Climate change is observed to increase the ozone layer and the particle pollution that we breathe every day. This will lead to several health problems like lung diseases and heart issues. Jaishankar et al. (2015), the decrease in the rain and an increase in the heat would mean the pollution to stay in the environment for a longer period of time. It has been expected that climate change is intended to cause 60,000 extra deaths in a decade due to an increase in pollution. Change in climate would alter the air currents that pass from the higher and the lower layers of the environment. This implies that the more stagnancy of the air would mean the more pollutants to stay at the ground level. Ozone created at the ground level is due to the reaction of chemical pollutants in the presence of sunlight. This ozone is bound to make the area of land warmer due to an increase in temperature (Welford, 2016).

The major cause of global warming and climate change is greenhouse effect and this is an effect that occurs when the heat to space from atmosphere is trapped. There are certain gases that stay in the climate for a long duration of time and they force climate change to happen. The chief gas that causes global warming and climate change is water vapour. The water vapour primarily traps the most radiation that is intended to escape to space. An increase in the CO2 is also a factor that is seen to cause a large change in the climate. Many human activities have been seen to increase CO2 in the atmosphere. Howarth (2014) conversed that Human has been cutting trees that absorb the extra carbon dioxide. This is the main factor, which has led to an increase in the carbon dioxide of the environment.

4. Prevention and new regulation in the international level

The government of UK has been working to increase the quality of the air and set standards for the reduction of health-threatening pollutants. A new Clean Air Strategy has been developed which primarily focuses on the reduction of the emissions and the protection of health. The UK government had been summoned by the Supreme Court to incorporate a national plan for limiting the NO2 emissions value.

Declarations on International Environmental Law

The Declarations of the UN Conference on Human Environment
This declaration was the first declaration that took in view the impact of the human on environment. The declaration aimed art challenging and preserving the human environment. This declaration embodies global environmental goals and objectives (Percival et al. 2017). 
The Rio Declaration
The Rio Declaration has 27 principles that aim towards the future sustainable development of the environment.


Treaties generally concern the hazardous and the nuclear substances that cause damage to the ozone, marine life and the reduction of pollution and other sustainability measures.

International Law Disputes and Remedies

There are no judicial bodies that have been set concerning environmental laws. There have been several disputes in the global, regional and judicial level related to the environmental regimes. The disputes that are related to the states which concern the international laws can be settled in the International Court of Justice. McIntyre, (2016) stated that the disputes between the States and the individuals, committee and others can be solved in the international human rights court.


Carbon dioxide increase in the environment is a grave problem that the world is facing nowadays. There are several processes and activities that increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. The primary activity that leads to this increase is the burning of fossil fuels. The average carbon footprint per person in UK is 13.8 tons which are immensely large. The increase in carbon footprints has led to climate change, extinction of the species and eradication of a large species of flora and fauna. Several ways have been suggested in the study that would help to keep a check on the greenhouse gases. Coase theorem would be helpful in achieving the reduction of carbon dioxide by organisations. Kyoto Protocol was introduced to implement measures for sustaining environment but several issues caused it to fail. New laws, regulations and treaties have been made to decrease the negative effect on environ. If situations continue like they are, it is expected that deaths due to pollution and climate change are going to be increased by 30% in five years.

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