We do have a moral obligation to protect the future of a planet in peril -that’s all there is to it. In Moral Ground the authors center on the idea that saving the environment is not merely and economic, political, or environmental issue; it is a human issue and should be considered with its implications on human rights. The environment is tied to humanity. Without the health of the environment, we cannot expect to experience an increase in the health of humanity. We cannot expect ourselves to be separated from an environment from which we take so much and give so little in return. From my findings, Belgium seems to understand this obligation to the planet and its people and has created policy on the local and federal levels to try to fight climate and environmental issues.
First, a few facts on the current state of the environment in Belgium:
–Total energy consumption in Brussels has actually decreased between 2004 and 2011 by 18 percent, according to the European Environmental Agency. The capital region, however, also experienced a growth in population of 12 percent during that time.
–The majority of Brussels (54 percent) is covered in green space; however, it has been noted by the EEA that that green space is shrinking, as it is among many urban areas across the world.
–In Flanders, the pollutant load of domestic waters as well as the energy intensity of the area both decreased from 2003 to 2009.
–In Wallonia, atmospheric emissions have decreased heavily since the 1990s, attributed to a growth in energy requirements and increase in renewable energy sources. However, Wallonia also experiences some pollution of their groundwater. According to the EEA, the state of Wallonian groundwater is not improving.
–In addition, the majority of agricultural lands in Belgium (70 percent) have received ratings that deem their soils are insufficient in nutrition.
In summation, Belgium is ahead of the curve as far as global climate change is concerned, though they may still experience issues with water and soil.
On a federal level, Belgium has created a new plan for climate and environmental preservation to be completed by 2020. They aim to have low-carbon development strategy, a federal adaptation plan, the third federal plan on sustainable development. They aim to enable public services and collaborate with many stakeholders nationwide, including activists, corporations and other players, to get their project done.
As far as environmental organizations working in Belgium, there are many. 350 World Map has set up shop in Brussels, but no where else in Belgium. According to the site, they are, “building a citizen climate activist movement in Belgium.” They claim they want to be part of a “creative, non-violent and open movement that aims to engage the people of Belgium and beyond in being part of the solution to catastrophic climate disruption.”
Greenpeace is also involved in Belgium. They have currently been working on a project to protect a forest the size of Belgium in Canada.
In 2013, a Greenpeace activist scaled the side of a podium at the Belgian Grand Prix (a car race) as a famous Belgian driver, Sebastian Vettel, was claiming his prize. The activist was attempting to stand against the contest’s sponsor, Shell and their drilling programs in the Arctic with a sign that read: “Congratulations. Now help us save to savethearctic.org.” Throughout the competition, other Greenpeace activists posted signs that read, “Arctic Oil? Shell no!” and other phrases.
Another prominent humanitarian organization, water.org, is not involved in my area. Although Belgium does experience issues with water pollutants, it does not experience drought like many of the issues that water.org assists.