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Green Agriculture as a Branch of the Green Economy: Problems of Assessing the Complex Environmental Impact

Rednikova Tatiana Vladimirovna

PhD in Law

Senior Scientific Associate, Department of Environmental, Land an Agrarian Law, Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences

119019, Russia, Moscow, Znamenka str., 10

trednikova@gmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.7256/2453-8809.2022.4.39530

EDN:

UWNIKC

Received:

22-12-2022


Published:

29-12-2022


Abstract: According to the ideology of the green economy, any economic activity should be carried out using technologies that cause minimal damage to the environment. The means and methods used by companies to minimize environmental harm from their activities, which seem effective at first glance and are even generally recognized, may turn out to be very ambiguous with a detailed and comprehensive analysis of their impact on the environment. Unfortunately, both abroad and in the Russian Federation, the level of legal regulation in the use of so-called green technologies, confirmation of their real compliance with the declared goals of environmental protection, as well as the introduction of liability measures for relevant violations and unfair competition remains extremely low. Closer attention on the part of society and the state to the existing problem should be realized in the development of appropriate legislation, both stimulating the development of a green economy according to established standards and rules, and ensuring the establishment of proper control over activities falling into the category of green, for its real compliance with the stated goals of environmental protection and conservation of the planet's resources. Of course, alternative energy should take its place in the system of ensuring the energy security of each state. But it is necessary to use its advantages wisely on the basis of legally established procedures for a comprehensive assessment of their impact on the environment, including in the long term. In the meantime, alternative energy, especially in Western countries, has firmly established the reputation of a "green", environmentally friendly industry, which in many cases is fundamentally wrong. The development of new necessary means and methods of legal regulation, along with their legislative consolidation, should play a key role in stimulating the effective development of society in a "green" direction, namely in a non-destructive direction for the environment.


Keywords:

green economy, green technologies, economic development, greenwashing, ecolabeling, environmental protection, alternative energy, legal regulation, environment, damage

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The green economy, which represents the realization of the concept of the need to minimize the impact on the environment in the course of economic activity, was formed at the end of the XX century. and today represents one of the most approved in the public consciousness of modern trends in economic development. The exact meaning of this concept is ambiguous today and is interpreted both internationally and nationally very widely, depending on the general context and goals of the specific document in which it is used [1, p. 14-15]. The term "green economy" is often found in strategic and political documents of both many states and individual economic entities. This direction is inherently correlated with the concept of sustainable development, which implies the development of society in which the most balanced combination of economic, environmental and social interests is ensured in order to preserve the planet's resources for present and future generations of people, as well as their maximum and rational use. Leaving aside the problem of the correlation between the concepts of "sustainable development" and "green economy" in the framework of this article, on which there are a number of different opinions in the scientific literature, we note that the ideology of green economy adheres to the position of the impossibility of ensuring endless economic growth in conditions of limited available resources without harming the environment. According to it, any economic activity should be carried out using technologies that cause minimal damage to the environment. Based on this criterion, completely different branches of human economic activity can be included in the concept of a green economy. At the same time, minimization of environmental damage can be achieved by completely different methods used both individually and in combination: minimizing emissions and discharges of pollutants into the environment, reducing the amount of resources consumed, increasing the service life of manufactured goods and ensuring its maintainability, recycling and waste-free recycling of packaging of goods, energy efficiency, etc. It should be noted that sometimes in the scientific literature the concept of a green economy is reduced exclusively to the issues of reducing the carbon footprint and expanding the use of alternative energy sources [2, p. 14-16], which does not seem entirely justified, since the negative impact on the environment of economic activity is much more diverse. For example, in the agricultural sector, the above-mentioned areas of its minimization include preventing the spread of alien species, increasing the stability of natural ecosystems, preserving landscapes, etc.

As for the practical implementation of the principles of the green economy, in fact, everything turns out to be not so simple and unambiguous. In modern society, especially in Western countries, due to the unconditional positive attitude of modern people to the tasks of preserving the environment in the most pristine and favorable condition, the use of the word "green" in advertising of a particular activity or product instantly adds additional bonus points to the subject that carries it out (producing this product) compared to competitors. However, business entities do not always apply it reasonably. To date, such a phenomenon as greenwashing ("green camouflage" – a concept first used by ecologist D. Westerveld in 1986 to denote the cover for the purpose of environmental protection of other unrelated purposes (more often economic), allowing to improve the image of the company in the eyes of consumers of its goods and services) has become widespread in many countries of the world. services). This concept inherently means fraudulent actions of companies, because by applying so-called green statements characterizing their activities and investing heavily in marketing campaigns to inform the general public about their commitment to environmental protection, they deceive consumers, since the initiatives they declare do not actually minimize the harm to the environment from their activities. And this is the sin of both large corporations and representatives of small and medium-sized businesses. There are several common techniques by which greenwashing is usually carried out. These are, for example, the use of green, and indeed other natural colors, eco-friendly packaging of goods (cardboard, paper and other similar, considered eco-friendly materials), on which images of plants, eco-labels, their own invented eco-labeling signs and inscriptions ("safe for nature", "eco" and Another technique of greenwashing is the emphasis in the product information on the absence of certain substances harmful to the environment, while the products often contain other, no less harmful, or there is an indication of the absence of harmful substances in the products, the use of which is legally prohibited. The manufacturer on the packaging may also indicate the absence of harmful substances in the product, which it cannot contain by definition. A striking example of the use of this method from a parallel sphere – ensuring safety for human health – is the indication on the packaging of vegetable oil on the absence of cholesterol in it, synthesized exclusively in animal organisms. The company's image is positively affected by its participation in various environmental programs and initiatives, while its core activities can cause significant harm to the environment. It is sometimes very difficult for people uninitiated in the subtleties of the production process and turnover of such pseudo-green products to assess the real contribution of such initiatives to environmental protection and minimizing the negative impact on it. As an example, we can cite the actions of the American company Starbucks, which in 2018, instead of plastic tubes when selling drinks to customers, began to use plastic caps with a spout under the pretext of reducing plastic consumption, having widely advertised its actions. However, the amount of plastic contained in the lids exceeded that in the tubes, and only a small part of them actually came for recycling (URL: https://theoryandpractice.ru/posts/19097-grinvoshing-zachem-brendy-pritvoryayutsya-ekologichnymi (accessed: 12/20/2022)).

Modern public opinion, especially in the so-called developed foreign countries, is formed taking into account the increased attention to the activities of economic entities for environmental protection and their contribution to the achievement of sustainable development goals. Entities that carry out their activities in accordance with the principles of green economy and sustainable development have a positive image, and, accordingly, their products and services are attractive to consumers. Thus, the coloring of activities in green, which is associated in the consciousness of society with the most friendly attitude to the environment, creates additional competitive advantages for companies and can often also affect the amount of profit received from the sale of such goods and services, since they can be sold at an inflated price, which is understood and accepted by consumers due to the expected high costs on their production. The purchase of such goods is regarded by people as their own contribution to environmental protection. Unfortunately, both abroad and in the Russian Federation, the level of legal regulation in the use of so-called green technologies, confirmation of their real compliance with the declared goals of environmental protection, as well as the introduction of liability measures for relevant violations and unfair competition remains extremely low today. Thus, as O.V. Kozhevina rightly notes, in our country there are no legally fixed criteria for environmental friendliness for various groups of goods and services, as well as clear and precise legal definitions of such concepts as "eco-friendly", "eco-friendly", "organic", and related ones [3, p. 13]. Closer attention on the part of society and the state to the existing problem should be realized in the development of appropriate legislation, both stimulating the development of a green economy according to established standards and rules, and ensuring the establishment of proper control over activities falling into the category of green, for its real compliance with the stated goals of environmental protection and conservation of the planet's resources in the interests of the current and future generations.

There are various ways used by economic entities to declare their commitment to the ideas of the green economy and the belonging of goods or the company producing them to the so-called green camp.

First of all, it is necessary to focus on such a widespread method as the use of environmental labeling signs. As a rule, such signs indicate the safety of the products on which they are applied for the life and health of people and the environment, and its use is possible only after passing the established procedure of voluntary certification. Both the national legislation of individual countries and supranational entities (for example, the European Union) regulates the procedure and the possibility of using environmental labeling signs, the most famous of which are such as the "White Swan" – a certification mark used in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden; the "Blue Angel" sign – it is used in Germany for products that meet environmental safety requirements; the "EU Flower" sign ("Eco-lable") is a single ecolabeling mark used in EU countries. In the EU, Regulation No. 66/2010 was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2009, regulating the rules for the creation and application of the voluntary ecolabeling scheme of the EU (see: Regulation (EC) No. 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the EU Ecolabel.OJ L 27, 30.1.2010, p. 1-19 // URL: http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2010/66/oj (accessed: 12/15/2022)).

Most often, the relevant requirements are approved by a separate act in relation to a specific product group. As an example, the Decision of the European Commission No. 2014/312/EU on the establishment of criteria for the use of the EU ecolabel mark for paints used for exterior and interior work (see 2014/312/EU: Commission Decision of 28 May 2014 establishing the ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for indoor and outdoor paints and varnishes (notified under document C(2014) 3429). OJ L 164, 3.6.2014, p. 45-73 // URL: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dec/2014/312/oj (date of application: 12/15/2022)), Decision of the European Commission No. 2016/1332 on the establishment of criteria for the use of the EU Ecolabel for furniture (Commission Decision (EU) 2016/1332 of 28 July 2016 establishing the ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for furniture (notified under document C(2016) 4778). OJ L 210, 4.8.2016, p. 100-149 // URL: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dec/2016/1332/oj (date of application: 12/15/2022)), Decision of the European Commission No. EU 2017/176 on the establishment of criteria for the use of the EU ecolabeling mark for floor coverings made of wood, cork and bamboo, (Commission Decision (EU) 2017/176 of 25 January 2017 on establishing EU Ecolabel criteria for wood-, cork- and bamboo-based floor coverings (notified under document C(2017) 303 OJ L 28, 2.2.2017, p. 44-68 // URL: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dec/2017/176/oj (accessed: 12/15/2022)). The validity periods of legal acts establishing criteria for the application of the EU ecolabeling mark are periodically extended (see Commission Decision (EU) 2022/1229 of 11 July 2022 amending Decisions 2014/312/EU, 2014/391/EU, 2014/763/EU, (EU) 2016/1332 and (EU) 2017/176 as regards the period of validity of the EU Ecolabel criteria and of the related assessment and verification requirements (notified under document C (2022)4739). OJ L 189, 18.7.2022, p. 20-23 // URL: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dec/2022/1229/oj (accessed: 12/15/2022)). Another group of environmental labeling signs are signs containing information about environmentally friendly ways to dispose of the goods themselves or their packaging. Such signs include such as the "Green Dot" (Der Gr?ne Punkt, Germany), the recycling sign "Mobius tape (loop)" ("Recycling", used in the USA, Great Britain and Scandinavian countries).

There are other ways to inform the public about the contribution of a business entity to environmental protection and minimizing the negative impact on it. These include the company's policy published on the websites and other relevant information, the dissemination of information that forms a positive image of the company from this point of view with the help of mass media, voluntary certification of products. However, as mentioned above, the means and methods used by companies to minimize environmental harm from their activities, which seem effective at first glance and are even generally recognized, with a detailed and comprehensive analysis of their impact on the environment can be very ambiguous.

As an illustration, here are some examples. Thus, the expansion of the scope of alternative energy sources is considered almost the main component of the "green" economy, including by reducing the consumption of its traditional sources in this regard and minimizing the carbon footprint [4, p. 9]. In recent decades, a whole range of measures of legal impact on the development of this energy sector has found its consolidation in both Russian and foreign legislation. In many countries, such measures of economic stimulation and administrative regulation have been adopted at the legislative level as "setting targets for energy supply from renewable sources, introducing preferential ("green") tariffs for the supply of electricity from renewable sources, state support for technologies, tax incentives, removal of administrative barriers, certification of renewable energy facilities" [5, c. 23].

However, each of the alternative energy industries, in addition to the above advantages, has a negative impact on the environment. In this case, the choice in favor of using alternative energy sources in each specific case should be made on the basis of a detailed analysis of the so-called pros and cons [6, p. 129]. First of all, it is necessary to assess the consequences of disposal (or, in most cases, disposal as waste) of components of energy generation plants from alternative sources (batteries, wind turbine blades, solar panels, etc.). An example of the reasonableness of the approach associated with taking into account the ratio of the negative impact on the environment and obtaining the corresponding benefits can be lead on the use of solar energy as an alternative source. Thus, the creation of high-power solar stations requires the allocation of large land plots for them. The negative effect in this case is their withdrawal from circulation, at the same time, the areas shaded by solar panels degrade (the properties of the soil cover change, ecosystems degrade). While the placement of solar stations on the roofs of existing and newly erected buildings in areas remote from transport and energy supply infrastructure with a high degree of average annual insolation is an effective and often the only affordable way to provide electricity to the population. The positive effect of minimizing the negative impact on the environment in this case is also achieved due to the absence of the need to erect additional linear electric power transportation facilities. Of course, alternative energy should take its place in the system of ensuring the energy security of each state. But it is necessary to use its advantages wisely on the basis of legally established procedures for a comprehensive assessment of their impact on the environment, including in the long term. In the meantime, alternative energy, especially in Western countries, has firmly established the reputation of a "green" and environmentally friendly industry, which in many cases is fundamentally wrong. An example of the negative impact of legislation stimulating the development of a certain direction of "green" energy in the European Union can be considered the introduction in Germany in the early 2000s of subsidies to farms for the cultivation of raw materials for the production of biofuels. As a result, a significant amount of acreage was occupied for the corresponding crops to the detriment of the production of agricultural products used as food, and improper crop rotation led to the degradation of fields. Thus, the negative effect of this measure on the state of the environment and ensuring food security significantly exceeded the positive effect of using the produced biofuels [7, p. 15].

These examples once again speak of the need for a reasonable and balanced approach when developing measures to stimulate a particular activity, as well as their legislative consolidation. A corresponding comprehensive assessment of possible risks and the consequences of their adoption should be carried out taking into account the widest possible interdisciplinary approach and the application of knowledge of various branches of science.

Agriculture is one of those industries in which the use of "green" economy methods helps to achieve good results. Currently, there are a number of modern technologies, the use of which in various branches of agriculture can really minimize environmental damage.

One of them is the construction of bioenergy plants capable of processing various types of biological waste from agricultural production [8, p. 28]. Such installations, in addition to an environmentally friendly way of waste disposal and thereby reducing the carbon footprint, for example, of animal husbandry, allow solving the problem of energy and heat production, as well as organic fertilizers. However, due to the significant cost of such installations, it seems advisable to develop appropriate investment programs at the federal level in order to ensure the possibility of construction and operation by small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises.

The "green" technologies in agriculture can also include modern technologies of tillage based on the reproduction of natural or similar processes and associated with minimal impact on it without the formation turnover unusual for natural ecosystems, as well as the use of soil mulching with plant residues, which allows to reduce moisture evaporation and slow down erosion processes [9, p. 89]. Other directions in the development of "green" agriculture are such as organic and point farming, biologically integrated farming systems, agriculture with controlled environment, agroforestry. The development of agrotourism, in addition to positive aspects for the development of rural areas, should be carried out taking into account the increased anthropogenic load from both the growth in the number of tourists and from the construction and operation of their accommodation facilities. In addition, energy efficiency and energy saving technologies, improving water use efficiency, using zero-emission transport, etc. can be widely used in agriculture.

Summing up the above, it should be noted that the implementation of the so-called green agenda in the development of mankind, which includes the achievement of the goals of sustainable development and the green economy, of course, should make a significant contribution to ensuring the preservation of the environment on the planet not only for future generations of people, but also other biological species living on it and having the same right to exist. Rational consumption of natural resources, changing the philosophy of consumer society to a more reasonable one, saving energy, especially by increasing energy efficiency, minimizing waste generation and creating new technologies for their processing and reuse in the case of reasonable and justified use of them are those "green" vectors of economic development that indicate its direction to ensure the existence of the the planet Earth of the biosphere in the broad sense of the word. The development of new necessary means and methods of legal regulation, along with their legislative consolidation, should play a key role in stimulating the effective development of society in a "green" direction, namely in a non-destructive direction for the environment.

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The subject of the study. The subject of the peer-reviewed article "Green agriculture as a branch of the green economy: problems of assessing the complex environmental impact" is the analysis of existing and the proposal of new necessary means and methods of legal regulation of "effective development of society in the "green", namely, in a non-destructive direction for the environment." The author pays special attention to the study of legal mechanisms that contribute to the development of the agricultural sector of the economy that is safe for the environment. Research methodology.In the course of the work, classical and modern research methods, both general scientific and private, were used. The methodological apparatus consists of the following dialectical methods of scientific cognition: abstraction, induction, deduction, hypothesis, analogy, synthesis, historical, theoretical-prognostic, formal-legal, systemic-structural methods, as well as the use of modeling, typology, classification, systematization and generalization. The use of many scientific methods made it possible to study established approaches, views on the subject of research, develop an author's position and argue it. The relevance of research. The relevance of the research topic is beyond doubt, since the concept of "sustainable development, which implies such a development of society in which the most balanced combination of economic, environmental and social interests is ensured in order to preserve the planet's resources for current and future generations of people, as well as their maximum and rational use," is of global importance for all mankind. The agricultural sector of the economy and the issues of its proper functioning are extremely important. In his article, the author says "about the need for a reasonable and balanced approach when developing measures to stimulate a particular activity, as well as their legislative consolidation. An appropriate comprehensive assessment of possible risks and the consequences of their adoption should be carried out taking into account the widest possible interdisciplinary approach and the application of knowledge from various branches of science." Scientific novelty. "Green economy" and "green agriculture" are terms that appeared only at the end of the twentieth century, so new publications on this topic are of scientific interest, especially those that also have practical significance. The author of the reviewed article has chosen a new aspect of the study of the problems of the "green economy", namely, the issues of assessing the complex environmental impact of the agricultural sector, including legal mechanisms to ensure the safety of agricultural activities, primarily for the environment. Style, structure, content. The article is written in a scientific style, using special scientific terminology. The article is logically structured, although it is not formally divided into parts. According to the content, the article reveals the topic stated by the author. The material is presented consistently, competently and clearly. Bibliography. In general, the author has studied a sufficient number of sources. However, the bibliographic sources are not designed in accordance with GOST. This remark should be worked out. Appeal to opponents. The article addresses the opponents correctly. All borrowings are decorated with links to the source of the publication. Conclusions, the interest of the readership. The article "Green agriculture as a branch of the green economy: problems of assessing the complex environmental impact" is written at a high scientific level, is relevant and has practical significance, and is characterized by scientific novelty. The article "Green agriculture as a branch of the green economy: problems of assessing the complex environmental impact" is recommended for publication in the scientific journal "Agriculture". Due to the fact that the problem raised by the author of the reviewed article is interdisciplinary in nature, this article may be of interest to a wide readership (including economists, lawyers and specialists in other fields of knowledge).
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