Energybasic and decision making
Thedecisions made by the government especially in the energy sector havecritical impacts on the environment. This is mainly because thegovernment initiates mega projects, such as hydro electric productsthat results into a wide range of environmental issues. The“Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act” commonlyreferred to as EGSPA provides a legal framework for governmentdecisions towards sustainable use of natural resources and theenvironment. The legislation is a unique environmental role thatappreciates the importance of environmental sustainability in theexploitation of natural resources for economic development. Therationale of the legislation is that economic prosperity should gohand in hand with environmental sustainability. The legislation setsout two objectives and twenty one goals that are expected to guidethe country towards sustainable use of resources and economicprosperity (Lahey & Doella, 2012).
Accordingto Lahey and Doella (2012), the heart of the legislation is the twoenvironmental sustainability and economic prosperity objectives. Thetwo objectives are to
“Demonstrateinternational leadership by having one of the cleaners and mostsustainable environments in the world by the year 2020” and“provide certainty to all sectors of the economy through thegovernment’s economic development strategy entitled opportunitiesfor sustainable prosperity and establish clear environmental goalswhile improving the province’s economic performance to a level thatis equal to or above the Canadian average by the year 2020” (Lahey& Doella, 2012, p 4).
Toachieve these two objectives, the act outlines 21 goals targetingdifferent aspects of the environment and the economy. Additionally,the legislation created an authority to oversee the achievement ofthe objective as well as a process that will guide the implementationof the goals. The 21 goals can be subdivided into five categories.These categories include air emissions goals, reliance of the energysector in fossil fuels, water resources, resources conservation andmanagement and the responsibility of the government. From a broadperspective, the primary objective of the legislation is to“integrate environmental sustainability and economic prosperity”(Lahey & Doella, 2012, p 6). Although not state actors have arole to play in the achievement of some of the goals, the governmentof Nova Scotia has the principle responsibility of implementing thelegislation (Lahey & Doella, 2012).
Laheyand Doella (2012), notes that the quantitative record of thegovernment was impressive since twelve out of fifteen goals that wereto be met by 2012 were achieved. Additionally, the goals which weremissed were not abandoned or ignored, but were behind schedule. Therewere several factors that led to late achievement of some goals,which included changes in the economic and political environment. Newpolicy frameworks based on the lessons learned in the first fiveyears of implementation would positively impact on the implementationof the law. Due to the success of the legislation in the fists fiveyears, Lahey and Doella (2012) proposed that the law can beconsidered as model legislation in other jurisdiction. Nonetheless,the legislature was amended based in recommendations and feedbacksfrom the implementing agencies. The amendments focused on clarity ofthe language and principles, increasing horizontal governance,reframing the objectives and key outcomes, updating the goals andadding new goals in line with new initiatives (Nova Scotia, 2014).
Inthe modern world, there are numerous environmental concerns, some ofwhich have focused on understanding different environmental measures(Partker & Tyedmers, 2012). Human societies and activitiesconsume resources, mainly natural resources and produce waste, whichis assimilated in the environment. Due to the nature of the modernsociety, consumption rates have increased resulted into moreincreased demand on the natural resources. This has threatened theability of the natural ecosystems to meet these demands. Thus,ecological footprint is one of the most important measures that havebeen used to communicate environmental impacts and form the basis ofdecision making (Van den et al, 2014). Ecological footprint refers toa “representation of the land and sea are required to sustain humanpopulations and human activities and the degree to which demand onecological resources and services fit within or overshoots thecapacity of the earth to provide them” (Partker & Tyedmers,2012, p76). The marine footprint refers to the demands of humanactivities and human populations upon marine resources. Ecologicalfootprint is concerned with how demands of human societies on thenatural ecosystem. For example, the footprint of a region refers tothe biological productivity of the ecosystem that is required toprovide what the population consumers and assimilate the wasteproduced. Like other ecological measurement, ecological footprint isassociated with some uncertainty will at the same time rarelycommunicated. However, these measures are important in decisionmaking at the individual, corporate and government level. Ecologicalfootprint is an important tool in measuring the extent to which thehuman population is using renewable resources compared to depletionof limited resources (Ewing et al, 2010). The aim of the study byParker and Tyedmers (2012) was to measure the marine footprint ofproducts derived from five fish. The measurement indicated thatdifferent fish have varying levels of ecological footprints. Thestudy identified natural variability and uncertainties as importantinfluences in the measurement of ecological footprints.
Ewing,B. et al. (2010). TheEcological Footprint Atlas 2010.Global Footprint Network, Oakland.
Lahey,W. & Doelle, M. (2012). “Negotiating the Interface ofEnvironmental and Economic Governance: Nova Scotia’s EnvironmentalGoals and Sustainable Prosperity Act”. DalhouseLaw Journal,35(1).
NovaScotia (2014). EnvironmentalGoals and Sustainable Prosperity Act progress report,Province of Nova Scotia. ISBN: 978-1-55457-653-1.
Partker,R. & Tyedmers, P. (2012). “Uncertainty and natural variabilityin the ecological footprint of fisheries: A case study of reductionfisheries for meal and oil|. EcologicalIndicators.16, pp 76-83.
Vanden B., Jeroen C. & Grazi, F. (2014). "Ecological FootprintPolicy? Land Use as an Environmental Indicator". Journalof Industrial Ecology18 (1): 10–19.