Environmental policy is an organization or government’s commitment to laws, regulations, and policy mechanism that are concerned with the environment and sustainability. Such issues that are covered under environmental policy include air or water pollution, biodiversity, solid waste management, the protection of wildlife and natural resources. Such policies are pursued by governments through the utilization of a number of tools, such as economic incentives or tax breaks, designed to make up for market failure of free enterprise to regulate itself.
Modern environmental policy movements can be traced to the 1960s, pushed by the 1962 publication of Silent Spring and the creation of Earth Day in 1970. President Richard Nixon created the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, in 1970, regulating pollutants that could be pumped into the air and water. The formation of the EPA by the U.S. drove the implementation of environmental policy in many other nations.
The European Union adopted the Environmental Action Programme in 1973, which has led to comprehensive environmental policy as a core function of politics in EU member nations. Such governmental action has led to a greater awareness on the part of corporations in evaluating their environmental impact and developing policies of their own. As a result of such movements, many universities now offer graduate programs in environmental policy, educating experts who can direct policy implementation on a corporate or government level.