located in western Europe, the kingdom of Belgium has a land area of 11,787 sq. mi. (30,528 sq. km.), with a population of 10,511,382 (2006 est.), and a population density of 892 people per sq. mi. (344.32 per sq. km.). Twenty-four percent of Belgium's land is allocated for arable use, with another 20 percent used for meadows and pasture, and 20 percent still forested.
One of the earliest countries in the world to become involved in the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century, in recent years Belgium has focused heavily on the nuclear industry, which is now responsible for 57.6 percent of the country's electricity production, with fossil fuels accounting for 40.3 percent of the electricity, and only 0.5 percent generated from hydropower. Belgium ranks 46th in the world in carbon dioxide emissions per capita, with 10.1 metric tons per person in 1990. Most of these carbon dioxide emissions come from liquid fuel (36 percent), solid fuel (32 percent), and gaseous fuel (28 percent). Although emissions have risen slightly since 1990, there have been many government measures introduced since 2000 to reduce Belgium's impact on climate change and global warming.
The government has long had an extensive railway network, and in recent years has extended the public transportation network with an integrated transport system operating throughout much of the country, including tramway services in many of the major cities. There are also two prominent Green movements in the country, the AGALEV and the ECOLO, both of which have been involved in regional and national governments. They did very well in the 1999 national elections, but most of their gains were reversed in 2003.
Since 1999, the country has cleaned up some pollution, but as late as 2003, a UN report on water quality listed Belgium as the last of 122 countries in terms of its waste treatment, pollution control, and drinking water quality. The Belgian government of Jean-Luc Dehaene, during his first few months in power, took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and in his last year in office, Dehaene's government signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was ratified on May 31, 2002, and took effect on February 16, 2005.
SEE ALSo: Nuclear Power; Pollution, Water; Transportation.
BIBLioGRAPHY. "Belgium—Climate and Atmosphere," www. earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Jo Buelens and Kris Deschouwer, "Belgium," Environmental Politics (v.11, 2002); John McCormick, Environmental Policy in the European Union (Palgrave, 2001); Tim O'Riordan and Jill Jäger, eds., Politics of Climate Change: A European Perspective
(Routledge, 1996); B. Rihoux, "Ecotaxes on the Belgian Agenda 1992-94: A Green Bargain," Environmental Politics (v.3/3, 1994); Marcel Wissenburg, European Discourses on Environmental Policy (Ashgate, 1999).
Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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