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Over the last few years we have seen an increasing number of countries fail to agree on all manner of environmental targets.
Even many of those who have agreed to cut emissions or protect wild areas have subsequently failed to meet the targets they accepted. And so it is in many fast-growing economies, each of whom wants to protect the environment without stifling competitiveness or the broader economy.
Kuwait, however, has a surprisingly robust environmental policy thanks to the so-called “Environmental Protection Law” which was unanimously agreed upon in 2014.
It clearly lays out how the Kuwaiti government plan to protect the environment including, for example, guidance on reducing fossil fuel emissions and increasing energy efficiency through the promotion of green building initiatives.
However unlike many other countries, where many of these policies are seen more as “guidelines” than a strict rule book, Kuwait has recently gone on record about just how seriously they plan to take breaches of these policies.
While few residents, either nationals or expats, can likely have too much of an impact on the wider problems, there are issues which can affect every individual. For example Kuwait aims to protect its wild places vigorously and takes no prisoners when individuals or companies are found to have damaged such areas.
But it’s not just the wilderness; legislation also covers urban environments, and it is here that individuals could fall foul without too many difficulties. Take, for example, public parks and other sources of greenery around Kuwait’s beautiful cities. It is deemed illegal to uproot or cut down any plant matter planted for the enjoyment of all. This includes grass, seasonal flowers and other sources of foliage.
Littering is also greatly frowned upon by the government, with considerable fines on the cards for those caught dropping empty food wrappers, drinks cans and the like. Even fruits and vegetables – which should biodegrade swiftly – are considered unacceptable forms of litter in Kuwait.
That said, one eagle-eyed reader was kind enough to point out that while there may be penalties in place, littering is still rife, for example along the Al Corniche beach front at weekends.
Let’s hope that the new rules dissuade at least a few people from unnecessarily dropping litter.
In essence the rules boil down to the avoidance of pollution and/or causing harm to others.
Kuwaiti nationals caught breaking these rules are taken to court, and if found guilty may end up having to pay a significant fine or spend time in prison. For expats, however, the end result could be far more serious.
Ministry of the Interior Undersecretary Lieutenant General Sulaiman Fahad Al-Fahad recently stated that police officers have been taking “decisive steps” against those caught violating the law. For expats, while jail time may still be on the cards the alternative could be deportation.
Lieutenant Al-Fahad also disclosed that the authorities will not hesitate to “name and shame” those caught breaking the law. This policy can include the publication of names and photographs of the perpetrators, as well as details on exactly what penalties where levied against them for their actions.
While some authorities claim that being deported for dropping an apple core could be regarded as an extreme measure, others highlight just how seriously the Kuwaiti government is taking those who pollute the environment or endanger the lives of others. Thanks to these new laws Kuwait should continue to remain as clean, picturesque and pleasant as ever.
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