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Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

Pollution and the Responsibility of Multinational Companies


Managing in the Global Environment
BOKHABRINE Ayoub
Monroe College

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

Abstract

The worlds changing perception of the environment and the further development of
globalization throughout our planet is having a profound effect on our ability to maintain a
balance between development and the environment. Globalization is taking over and it is the
opinion of many that multi-national corporations are gaining more power in areas of politics
and economy while damaging the environment in the process.

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

The importance of foreign investment for developing countries striving to industrialize


their economies is undeniable. The flow of foreign investment into the manufacturing sector
is often accompanied by a much needed transfer of technology. It also creates business
opportunities for local business-people and offers additional employment to the local
communities. However, there are also negative consequences from the economic development
spurred by foreign investment. The increase in industrial pollution is one of these.
Many developing countries have a strong orientation towards economic development
and industrialization. In order to achieve high economic growth the governments normally
welcome foreign investments. Also, multinational corporations (MNCs) are seen by the
governments of developing countries as an important source of employment opportunities and
provider of advanced technologies. The facts that rapid economic development is often
accompanied by the deterioration of the environment and that some MNCs make use of the
often relatively lenient standards of environmental control in the host countries are often
overlooked. Developing countries' strong developmental orientation and the ruthless pursuit
of industrialization act as 'pull factors' that cause environmental deterioration in those
countries and unwittingly open the doors for the 'export of pollution'.
A significant ethical issue for multinational corporations in host countries is
environmental pollution. This issue arises when environmental regulations in host countries
are inferior to those of the multinational corporations home country. Many developed nations
have substantial regulations governing the emissions of pollutants, the dumping of toxic
chemicals, the use of toxic materials in the workplace, and so on. Those regulations are often
lacking in developing nations, and the result can be higher levels of pollution from the
operations of multinationals than would be allowed at home. Many multinational corporations
move operations to a developing host nation specifically to avoid costly pollution controls,

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

where they in turn add increased pollution to the surrounding environment simply for the
reason of lowering costs of production in order to gain an advantage. Pollution can endanger
plant life, wildlife, human life, and water in host countries. Multinationals can also help
contribute to the phenomenon known as the tragedy of the commons, which occurs when a
resource held in common by all, but owned by no one, is overused by individuals, resulting in
its degradation. They can contribute to the tragedy of the commons by moving productions to
locations where they are free to pump pollutants into the atmosphere or dump them in oceans
or rivers, thereby harming these valuable global resources. Although environmental pollution
is an ethical issue alone, another ethical issue branching off from this is the fact that the health
of the people in the host country is being put into jeopardy as well. Although businesses do
not have an obligation to protect the environment above what the law requires, they must
realize that the severity of the pollution, and the problems that arise from it, in order to fully
understand that their actions are ethically wrong. For example, if businesses showed more
concern for the environment above what the law requires, they would be able to significantly
cut pollution and the harm that it brings to the environment of host nations. Consumers are
also at fault here as they tend to shy away from the environmentally friendly companies
products since their price tags may be slightly higher than that of the company that is able to
cut production costs by polluting the environments of host nations. Consumers can do their
part in attempting to solve this ethical issue by purchasing more environmentally friendly
products. Environment requirements, like those in developed countries, must be implemented
in countries that are popular with multinational corporations. This will restrict these
companies from polluting and dumping toxic chemicals into these environments that could
result in consequences both locally and worldwide. The Kyoto Protocol is an international
agreement between thirty-seven countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse
gases are caused by carbon emissions going into the atmosphere from things such as car gas

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

pipes and other fuels such as natural and diesel gasoline. The protocol commits countries to
cut back on the percentage of emission per capita they release into the atmosphere every year.
However, there are not many countries in the world that are part of the agreement. It would be
very advantageous if more countries that host a lot of multinational corporations joined.
For example, consider again the case of foreign oil companies in Nigeria. According to
a 1992 report prepared by environmental activists in Nigeria, in the Niger Delta region,
Apart from air pollution from the oil industrys emissions and flares day and night,
producing poisonous gases that are silently and systematically wiping out vulnerable
airborne biota and endangering the life of plants, game, and man himself, we have widespread
water pollution and soil/land pollution that results in the death of most aquatic
eggs and juvenile stages of the life of fin fish and shell fish on the one hand, whilst, on the
other hand, agricultural land contaminated with oil spills becomes dangerous for farming,
even where they continue to produce significant yields.
The political and economic powers wielded by the Corporations within the Nigerian
territory far outweigh their commitment to abide by international environmental standards
with regard to exploration activities. According to Audrey Gaughran , "The Oil Companies
have been exploiting Nigerias weak regulatory system for too long. They do not adequately
prevent environmental damage and they frequently fail to properly address the devastating
impact that their bad practice has on peoples lives". The over fifty years of oil exploration
activity in the Oil Rich Niger-Delta region have been characterized with unprecedented
devastation and social instability as a result of militancy within the region
. The discovery of these-called black gold has become the source of an endless nightmare to
the over 31 million people living in the Niger-Delta region. The Polluter pays a
fundamental principle of international environmental law which states that the polluting party
is to pay for the damage done to the natural environment.

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

Nevertheless all efforts made in the form of petitions, allegations and dialogue tonsure that
Oil companies in Nigeria recognize their corporate liability for the devastating effect of oil
spillages and to act in accordance with this fundamental principle have not been so fruitful.
The present case shows the determination of international Non-Governmental bodies
concerned with the environmental pollution to fight to obtain Justice beyond the Nigerian
territory. This present move will open doors for numerous litigants who could not find succor
in the Nigerian Courts against the powerful oil companies to try to do so by resorting to
litigation outside the shore of the Country. This presses home the question whether the
seeming powerlessness of the Nigerian Judiciary is as a result of weak or inadequate
environmental protection legislation or policies.
Pollution like any other problem can be solved, but it will be a long process.
Individuals can do their part to save the environment as well as themselves. Instead of driving,
carpool, take the bus or any other method of mass transit. This will cut down on pollution
made by cars each year, not to mention your gas bill. When it comes to the trash problem, take
the time to sort your trash and place it in the appropriate recycling bins. By recycling we
reduce the amount of waste piled onto the landfills. As for consumption, pay attention to how
the products you buy are manufactured and how they are packaged. Avoid those products
made in 'unfriendly' ways towards our mother earth. If a product encourages the destruction of
land, or is of completely no use don't buy it. And finally voice your opinion in the polls. If
each individual did their part, we will be creating a better world for ourselves as well as our
children.

Running head : Pollution and The responsibility of Multinational companies

Reference

1. "The Own Worst Enemy Theory: A Case of Oil Pollution in Nigeria"(2011) Openmind
Foundation.
http://www.openmindfoundation.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/08/Black_race_and_love_for
_self.pdf
2. Tashman, Peter, and Jorge Rivera. 2010. Are Members of Business for Social Responsibility
More Socially Responsible? Policy Studies Journal 38 (3): 487514.
3. Nigeria National Biosafety frameworks(2005) Federal Ministry of Environment
http://www.unep.org/biosafety/files/NGNBFrep.pdf
4. Environmental Protection Agency US (EPA) Report of Shell Nigeria
http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/permits/ocs/shell/kulluk/final_air_permit_response_to_co
mments_10-21-2011.pdf