The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice (EJ) as the fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EJ policies are intended to overcome environmental inequalities caused by racial and economic advantages built into policy-making, enforcement, and locating of waste disposal and polluting industries. Most research on Environmental Justice demonstrates that there are disparities by race and class in the distribution of environmental hazards, whether defined by facility location, emissions, ambient concentrations of air pollution, or environmental enforcement and clean-up activities. Environmental justice is a relatively unexplored but growing policy area in Europe. There are a number of European laws and directives that specifically relate to developing access to environmental information, participation and decision- making.
Environmental Justice may offer new insights into the juncture of social inequality and public health in Europe and may provide a framework for EU policy discussions on the impact of discrimination on the environmental health of diverse communities. Within the present research project we aim at quantifying the concept of environmental justice for Europe. In our analysis we will analyse the issue of environmental equity linked mainly to three sets of variables: variables linked to economic welfare, variables linked to environmental stress, and variables connected with public health. The analyses will investigate the distribution of environmental costs amongst different demographic groups (i.e. low income, ethnical minorities) in Europe, with a focus on the Netherlands and Italy. Due to the spatial nature of our socio-economical data, the tools offered by spatial statistics and spatial econometrics will be largely used for the empirical applications.
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