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Environmental PrinciplesFrom Political Slogans to Legal Rules$

Nicolas de Sadeleer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199254743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199254743.001.0001

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(p.375) Appendix I Table of Materials

(p.375) Appendix I Table of Materials

Source:
Environmental Principles
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

Main provisions embodying environmental principles, as discussed in this book (emphases on the principles have been added by the author).

1. INTERNATIONAL LAW

Soft law

United Nations

1972 Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment

Principle 7: ‘States shall take all possible steps to prevent pollution of the seas by substances that are liable to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate use of the sea.’

Principle 21: ‘States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdictions.’

1982 World Charter for Nature

Paragraph 11: ‘Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled, and the best available technologies that minimize significant risks to nature or other adverse effects shall be used; in particular:

  1. (a) activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature shall be avoided;

  2. (b) activities which are likely to pose a significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that expected benefits outweigh potential damage to nature, and where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed;

  3. (c) activities which may disturb nature shall be preceded by assessment of their consequences, and environmental impact studies of development projects shall be conducted sufficiently in advance, and if they are to be undertaken, such activities shall be planned and carried out so as to minimize potential adverse effects…’

1989 UNEP’s Governing Council Decision 15/27 on the Precautionary Approach to Marine Pollution

‘Recognizing that waiting for scientific proof regarding the impact of pollutants discharged into the marine environment may result in irreversible damage to the marine environment and in human suffering… Recommends that all governments adopt the (p.376) principle of precautionary action as the basis of their policy with regard to the prevention and elimination of marine pollution.’

1990 Bergen Ministerial Declaration on Sustainability in the ECE Region

Section 7: ‘In order to achieve sustainable development, policies must be based on the precautionary principle. Environmental measures must anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

1990 Bangkok Declaration on Environmental Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

‘Community policy on the environment … shall be based on the precautionary principle…

1992 Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development

Principle 2: ‘States have …. the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.’

Principle 15: ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

Principle 16: ‘National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interests and without distorting international trade and investment.’

1992 Agenda 21, Chapter 17

‘A precautionary and an anticipatory rather than a reactive approach is necessary to prevent the degradation of the marine environment. This requires, inter alia, the adoption of precautionary measures, environmental impact assessments, clean production techniques, recycling, waste audits and minimization, construction and/or improvement of sewage treatment facilities, quality management criteria for handling hazardous substances, and a comprehensive approach to damaging impact from air, land and water.’

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

1972 OECD Council Recommendation on Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies (C(72) 128(Final))

A(4) ‘The principle to be used for allocating costs of pollution prevention and control measures to encourage rational use of scarce environmental resources and to avoid distortions in international trade and investment is the so-called “Polluter-Pays Principle”. This principle means that the polluter should bear the expenses of carrying out the above-mentioned measures decided by public authorities to ensure that the environment is in an (p.377) acceptable state. In other words, the cost of these measures should be reflected in the cost of goods and services which cause pollution in production and/or consumption. Such measures should not be accompanied by subsidies that would create significant distortions in international trade and investment.’

1974 OECD Council Recommendation on the Implementation of the Polluter-Pays Principle (C(74)223 (Final))

‘The Council … I. Reaffirms that:

  • the Polluter-Pays Principle constitutes for Member countries a fundamental principle for allocating costs of pollution prevention and control measures introduced by the public authorities in Member countries;

  • the Polluter-Pays Principle, as defined by the Guiding Principles Concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies, which take account of particular problems possibly arising for developing countries, means that the polluter should bear the expenses of carrying out the measures, as specified in the previous paragraph, to ensure that the environment is in an acceptable state. In other words, the cost of these measures should be reflected in the cost of goods and services which cause pollution in production and/or consumption;

  • uniform application of this principle, through the adoption of a common basis for Member countries’ environmental policies, would encourage the rational use and the better allocation of scarce environmental resources and prevent the appearance of distortions in international trade and investment.’

1989 OECD Council Recommendation on the Application of the Polluter-pays Principle to Accidental Pollution (C89) 99 Final, July 7, 1989

  1. 4. ‘In matters of accidental pollution risks, the Polluter-Pays Principle implies that the operator of the hazardous installation should bear the cost of reasonable measures to prevent and control accidental pollution from that installation which are introduced by public authorities in Member Countries in conformity with domestic law prior to the occurrence of an accident in order to protect human health and the environment.’

1991 OECD Council Recommendation on the Use of Economic Instruments in Environmental Policy (C(90)177 (Final))

‘The Council,… Considering that a sustainable and economically efficient management of environmental resources requires, inter alia, the internalisation of pollution prevention, control and damage costs;

Considering that such internalisation can be enhanced by a consistent use of market mechanisms, in particular those economic instruments defined in the Annex to this Recommendation;

  1. 1. Recommends that Member countries:… ii) work towards improving the allocation and efficient use of natural and environmental resources by means of economic instruments so as to better reflect the social cost of using these resources.’

….

  1. 23. In implementing economic instruments, it is necessary to comply with … principles of environmental policy both at national and the international level. One of the most important of these is the Polluter-Pays Principle.’

(p.378) North Sea International Conferences

1984 Bremen Ministerial Declaration of the International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea

A.7. ‘Conscious that damage to the marine environment can be irreversible or remediable only at considerable expense and over long periods and that, therefore, coastal states and the EEC must not wait for proof of harmful effects before taking action;’

1987 London Ministerial Declaration of the Second International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea

‘VII. Accepting that, in order to protect the North Sea from possibly damaging effects of the most dangerous substances, a precautionary approach is necessary which may require action to control imputs of such substances even before a causal link has been established by absolutely clear scientific evidence.’

XVI. 1. ‘(The Participants) accept the principle of safeguarding the marine ecosystem of the North Sea by reducing polluting emissions of substances that are persistent, toxic and liable to bioaccumulate at source by the use of the best available technology and other appropriate measures. This applies especially when there is reason to assume that certain damage or harmful effects on the living resources of the sea are likely to be caused by such substances, even where there is no scientific evidence to prove a causal link between emissions and effects (“the principle of precautionary action”).’

1990 The Hague Ministerial Declaration of the Third International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea

‘(The Participants) will continue to apply the precautionary principle, that is to take action to avoid potentially damaging impacts of substances that are persistent, toxic and liable to bioaccumulate even where there is no scientific evidence to prove a causal link between emissions and effects.’

1995 Esbjerg Ministerial Declaration of the Fourth International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea

‘The Ministers agree that the objective is to ensure a sustainable, sound and healthy North Sea ecosystem. The guiding principle for achieving this objective is the precautionary principle. This implies the prevention of the pollution of the North Sea by continuously reducing discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous substances thereby moving towards the target of their cessation within one generation (25 years) with the ultimate aim on concentrations in the environment near background values for naturally occurring substances and close to zero concentrations for man-made synthetic substances.’

Multilateral treaties

Air pollution

1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

Preamble: ‘Mindful … of the precautionary measures for the protection of the ozone layer which have already been taken at the national and international levels…’

(p.379) 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

Preamble: ‘The Parties to this Protocol (are) determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control equitably total global emissions of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination on the basis of developments in scientific knowledge, taking into account technical and economic considerations and bearing in mind the developmental needs of developing countries.’

1992 UNFCCC

Article 3(3): ‘In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following:

  1. 1. The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations…

  2. 2. The parties should take the precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimise the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost.

  3. 3. The parties have a right to, and should, promote sustainable development…’

1994 Oslo Protocol on Further Reduction of Sulphur Emissions to LRTAP Convention

Preamble: ‘Convinced that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that such precautionary measures to deal with emissions of air pollutants should be cost-effective.’

1998 Århus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants to LRTAP Convention

Preamble: ‘Resolved to take measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize emissions of persistent organic pollutants, taking into account the application of the precautionary approach, as set forth in principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.’

1998 Århus Protocol on Heavy Metals to the LRTAP Convention

Preamble: ‘Resolved to take measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize emissions of heavy metals and their related compounds, taking into account the application of the precautionary approach, as set forth in principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.’

Marine pollution

1976 Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (as amended in 1995)

Article 4(3)(a): ‘In order to protect the environment and contribute to the sustainable development of the Mediterranean Sea, the Contracting Parties shall:

  1. a) apply, in accordance with their capabilities, the precautionary principle, by virtue of which where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific (p.380) certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation;

  2. b) apply the polluter pays principle, by virtue of which the costs of pollution prevention, control and reduction measures are to be borne by the polluter with due regard to the pulic interest;’

1980 Athens Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (as amended in Syracuse on 7 March 1996)

Preamble: ‘Applying the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, undertaking environmental impact assessment and utilizing the best available techniques and the best environmental practice, including clean production technologies…’

1989 PARCOM Recommendation 89/1

‘The contracting parties … accept the principle of safeguarding the marine ecosystem of the Paris Convention area by reducing at source polluting emissions of substances that are persistent, toxic and liable to bioaccumulate by the use of best available technology and other appropriate measures. This applies especially when there is reason to assume that certain damage or harmful effects on the living resources of the sea are likely to be caused by such substances, even when there is no scientific evidence to prove a causal link between the emissions and effects (“the principle of precautionary action”)…’

1990 London International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation

Preamble: ‘Taking account of the polluter pays principle as a general principle of international environmental law,’

1992 OSPAR Convention

Article 2(2): ‘The Contracting Parties shall apply:

  1. 1. the precautionary principle, by virtue of which preventive measures are to be taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern that substances or energy introduced, directly or indirectly, into the marine environment may bring about hazards to human health, harm living resources and marine ecosystems, damage amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea, even when there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship between the inputs and the effects;

  2. 2. the polluter pays principle, by virtue of which the costs of pollution prevention, control and reduction measures are to be borne by the polluter.’

1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area

Article 3(2): ‘The Contracting Parties shall apply the precautionary principle, i.e. to take preventive measures when there is reason to assume that substances or energy introduced, directly or indirectly, into the marine environment may create hazards to human health, harm living resources and marine ecosystems, damage amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea even when there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship between imputs and their alleged effects.’

(p.381) 1996 London Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter

Article 3(1): ‘In implementing this Protocol, Contracting Parties shall apply a precautionary approach to environmental protection from dumping of wastes or other matter whereby appropriate preventative measures are taken when there is reason to believe that wastes or other matter introduced into the marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation between inputs and their effects.’

(2) ‘Taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution, each Contracting Party shall endeavour to promote practices whereby those it has authorized to engage in dumping or incineration at sea bear the cost of meeting the pollution prevention and control requirements for the authorized activities, having due regard to the public interest.’

2000 London Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-Operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances

Preamble: ‘Taking into account of the “polluter paysprinciple as a general principle of international environmental law…

Being mindful of the development of a strategy for incorporating the precautionary approach in the policies of the International Maritime Organization.’

2001 London Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships

Preamble: ‘Mindful of the precautionary approach as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development …’

‘Recognizing further the need to continue to develop anti-fouling systems which are effective and environmentally safe and to promote the substitution of harmful systems by less harmful systems or preferably harmless systems.’

Article 6 (Process for Proposing Amendments to Controls on Anti-Fouling Systems):

  1. (1) ‘Any Party may propose an amendment to Annex 1 in accordance with this Article…

  2. (3) ‘The Committee shall decide whether the anti-fouling system in question warrants a more in-depth review based on the intial proposal. If the Committee decides that further review is warranted, it shall require the proposing Party to submit to the Committee a comprehensive proposal containing the information required in Annex 3, except where the initial proposal also includes all the information required in Annex 3. Where the Committee is of the view that there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason to prevent a decision to proceed with the evaluation of the proposal. The Committee shall establish a technical group in accordance with Article 7.

  3. (4) ‘The technical group shall review the comprehensive proposal along with any additional data submitted by any interested entity and shall evaluate and report to the Committee whether the proposal has demonstrated a potential for unreasonable risk of adverse effects on non-target organisms or human health such that the amendment of Annex 1 is warranted. In this regard:

    (p.382)
    1. (a) The technical group’s review shall include:…

      1. (v) consideration of the availability of suitable alternatives, including a consideration of the potential risks of alternatives.

  4. (5) … The Committee shall decide whether to approve any proposal to amend Annex 1, and any modifications thereto, if appropriate, taking into account the technical group’s report. If the report finds a threat of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not, itself, be used as a reason to prevent a decision from being taken to list an anti-fouling system in Annex 1…’

High seas fisheries

1995 UN Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of The Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks

Article 5. General principles:

‘In order to conserve and manage straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, coastal States and States fishing on the high seas shall, in giving effect to their duty to cooperate in accordance with the Convention:…

(c) apply the precautionary approach in accordance with Article 6;

Article 6. Application of the precautionary approach:

  1. 1. States shall apply the precautionary approach widely to conservation, management and exploitation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks in order to protect the living marine resources and preserve the marine environment.

  2. 2. States shall be more cautious when information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate. The absence of adequate scientific information shall not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take conservation and management measures.

  3. 3. In implementing the precautionary approach, States shall:

    1. (a) improve decision-making for fishery resource conservation and management by obtaining and sharing the best scientific information available and implementing improved techniques for dealing with risk and uncertainty;

    2. (b) apply the guidelines set out in Annex II and determine, on the basis of the best scientific information available, stock-specific reference points and the action to be taken if they are exceeded;

    3. (c) take into account, inter alia, uncertainties relating to the size and productivity of the stocks, reference points, stock condition in relation to such reference points, levels and distribution of fishing mortality and the impact of fishing activities on non-target and associated or dependent species, as well as existing and predicted oceanic, environmental and socio-economic conditions; and

    4. (d) develop data collection and research programmes to assess the impact of fishing on non-target and associated or dependent species and their environment, and adopt plans which are necessary to ensure the conservation of such species and to protect habitats of special concern.

  4. 4. States shall take measures to ensure that, when reference points are approached, they will not be exceeded. In the event that they are exceeded, States shall, without delay, take the action determined under paragraph 3(b) to restore the stocks.

  5. (p.383)
  6. 5. Where the status of target stocks or non-target or associated or dependent species is of concern, States shall subject such stocks and species to enhanced monitoring in order to review their status and the efficacy of conservation and management measures. They shall revise those measures regularly in the light of new information.

  7. 6. For new or exploratory fisheries, States shall adopt as soon as possible cautious conservation and management measures, including, inter alia, catch limits and effort limits. Such measures shall remain in force until there are sufficient data to allow assessment of the impact of the fisheries on the long-term sustainability of the stocks, whereupon conservation and management measures based on that assessment shall be implemented. The latter measures shall, if appropriate, allow for the gradual development of the fisheries.

  8. 7. If a natural phenomenon has a significant adverse impact on the status of straddling fish stocks or highly migratory fish stocks, States shall adopt conservation and management measures on an emergency basis to ensure that fishing activity does not exacerbate such adverse impact. States shall also adopt such measures on an emergency basis where fishing activity presents a serious threat to the sustainability of such stocks. Measures taken on an emergency basis shall be temporary and shall be based on the best scientific evidence available.’

International watercourses

1992 ECE Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Article 2(5): ‘In taking the measures referred to paragraphs 1 and 2 of the article, the Parties shall be guided by the following principles:…

  • the precautionary principle, by virtue of which action to avoid the potential transboundary impact of the release of hazardous substances shall not be postponed on the ground that scientific research has not fully proved a causal link between those substances, on the one hand, and the potential transboundary impact, on the other hand…

  • the polluter-pays principle, by virtue of which costs of pollution prevention, control and reduction measures shall be borne by the polluter.’

1994 Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River

Article 4(4): ‘The Polluter pays principle and the Precautionary principle constitute a basis for all measures aiming at the protection of the Danube River and of the waters within its catchment area.’

1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Protection of the Rhine

Article 4: ‘The Contracting Parties are guided by the following principles:

  • principle of prevention

  • principle of precaution

  • principle of mainly fighting environmental deteriorations at the source

  • polluter-pays principle

  • principle of not increasing adverse effects

  • principle of compensation for considerable technical interventions

  • principle of sustainable development

  • (p.384)
  • application and further development of the Best Available Technique and of the Best Environmental Practice

  • principle of not transferring environmental pollution into other environmental media.’

Biodiversity

1991 Salzburg Convention on the Protection of the Alps

Preamble: ‘The Contracting Parties, respecting the principles of prevention, cooperation, and the polluter-pays, shall maintain a comprehensive policy of protection and preservation of the Alps.’

1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity

Preamble: ‘Noting that it is vital to anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at source.

Noting that where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat.’

1994 CITES Resolution of the Conference of the Parties: Criteria for Amendment of Appendices I and II, agreed at the Ninth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Fort Lauderdale (US), 7–18 November 1994

‘RECOGNISING that by virtue of the precautionary principle, in cases of uncertainty, the Parties shall act in the best interest of the conservation of the species when considering proposals for amendment of appendices I and II;

RESOLVES that when considering any proposal to amend appendix I or II the Parties shall apply the precautionary principle so that scientific uncertainty should not be used as a reason for failing to act in the best interest of the conservation of the species.’

1995 The Hague Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds

Article 2(2): ‘In implementing the measures prescribed in paragraph 1 above, Parties should take into account the precautionary principle.’

1996 Monaco Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)

Article 2(4): ‘In implementing the measures prescribed above, the Parties shall apply the precautionary principle.’

2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Article 1: ‘In accordance with the precautionary approach contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Protocol is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements.’

Articles 10(6) and 11(8): ‘Lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects of a living modified organism on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the (p.385) Party of import, taking also into account risks to human health, shall not prevent that Party from taking a decision … in order to avoid or minimize such potential adverse effects.’

2001 Canberra Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Article 2(3): ‘In implementing such measures the Parties shall widely apply the precautionary approach. In particular, where there are threats of serious or irreversible adverse impacts or damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to enhance the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels.’

Waste management

1991 Bamako Convention on the Ban of Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa

Article 4(3)(f): ‘Each Party shall strive to adopt and implement the preventive, precautionary approach to pollution problems which entails, inter alia, preventing the release into the environment of substances which may cause harm to humans or the environment without waiting for scientific proof regarding such harm. The parties shall cooperate with each other in taking the appropriate mesasures to implement the precautionary principle to pollution through the application of clean production methods rather than the pursuit of a permissible emissions approach based on the assimilative capacity assumptions.’

Chemicals

2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Preamble: ‘Acknowledging that precaution underlies the concerns of all the Parties and is embedded within this Convention

Article 1: Mindful of the precautionary approach as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Convention is to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.’

Environmental impact assessment

1992 Helsinki UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents

Preamble: ‘Taking into account of the polluter-pays principle as a general principle of international environmental law.’

2. EUROPEAN COMMUNITY LAW

Soft law

Recommendation 75/436/Euratom, ECSC, EEC 1975 Regarding Cost Allocation and Action by Public Authorities on Environmental Matters

‘Natural or legal persons governed by public or private law who are responsible for pollution (p.386) must pay the costs of such measures as are necessary to eliminate that pollution or to reduce it so as to comply with the standards or equivalent measures which enable quality objectives to be met or, where there are no such objectives, so as to comply with the standards or equivalent measures laid down by the public authorities.’

1992 EC Commission Vth Programme for Sustainable Development and Environmental Policies:

Preamble: ‘ACKNOWLEDGE that the programme presented by the Commission has been designed to reflect the objectives and principles of sustainable development, preventive and precautionary action and shared responsibility set out in the declaration of the Heads of State and the Government of the Community meeting in Council on 26 June 1990 and in the Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht on 7 February 1992… In accordance with the European Council’s Declaration ‘The Environmental Imperative’ the guiding principles for policy decision under this Programme derive from the precautionary approach and the concept of shared responsibility, including effective implementation of the Polluter Pays Principle.’

1997 EC Commission Green Paper on the General Principles of Food Law in the European Community

‘The Treaty requires the Community to contribute to the maintenance of a high level of protection of public health, the environment and consumers. In order to ensure a high level of protection and coherence, protective measures should be based on risk assessment, taking into account all relevant risk factors, including technological aspects, the best available scientific evidence and the availability of inspection sampling and testing methods. Where a full risk assessment is not possible, measures should be based on the precautionary principle.’

2000 EC Commission White Paper on Food Safety

‘Where appropriate, the precautionary principle will be applied in risk management decisions.’

2000 Communication from the EC Commission on the Precautionary Principle

‘The Community has consistently endeavoured to achieve a high level of protection, among others in environment and human, animal or plant health. In most cases, measures making it possible to achieve this high level of protection can be determined on a satisfactory scientific basis. However, when there are reasonable grounds for concern that potential hazards may affect the environment or human, animal or plant health, and when at the same time the available data preclude a detailed risk evaluation, the precautionary principle has been politically accepted as a risk management strategy in several fields.’ ‘Although the precautionary principle is not explicity mentioned in the Treaty except in the environmental field, its scope is far wider and covers those specific circumstances where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and there are indications through preliminary objective scientific evaluation that there are reasonable grounds for concern that the potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or plant health may be inconsistent with the chosen level of protection.’

2000 Council Resolution on the Precautionary Principle

‘…

  1. 2. considers that the precautionary principle applies to the policies and action of the Community and its Member States and concerns action by public authorities both at (p.387) the level of the Community institutions and at that of Member States; that such authorities should endeavour to have that principle fully recognised by the relevant international fora;

  2. 3. notes that the precautionary principle is gradually asserting itself as a principle of international law in the fields of environmental and health protection;

  3. 4. considers that WTO rules do basically allow account to be taken of the precautionary principle;

  4. 5. believes that under international law the Community and the Member States are entitled to establish the level of protection they consider appropriate in risk management, that they may to that end take appropriate measures under the precautionary principle and that it is not always possible to determine in advance the level of protection appropriate to all situations;

  5. 6. sees a need to establish guidelines for use of the precautionary principle, in order to clarify arrangements for its application;

  6. 7. considers that use should be made of the precautionary principle where the possibility of harmful effects on health or the environment has been identified and preliminary scientific evaluation, based on the available data, proves inconclusive for assessing the level of risk;

  7. 8. considers that the scientific assessment of the risk must proceed logically in an effort to achieve hazard identification, hazard characterisation, appraisal of exposure and risk characterisation, with reference to procedures recognised at Community level and internationally, and that, owing to insufficient data and the nature or urgency of the risk, it may not always be possible to complete every stage systematically;

  8. 9. considers that, in order to carry out the risk assessment, public authorities must have suitable research facilities and rely in particular on scientific committees and on relevant national and international scientific work; that the public authorities are responsible for organising the risk assessment, which must be carried out in a multi-disciplinary, independent and transparent manner and ensure that all views are heard;

  9. 10. considers that an assessment of risk must also report any minority opinions. It must be possible to express such opinions and bring them to the knowledge of the parties involved, in particular if they draw attention to scientific uncertainty;

  10. 11. affirms that those responsible for scientific assessment of risk must be functionally separate from those responsible for risk management, albeit with ongoing exchange between them;

  11. 12. considers that risk management measures must be taken by the public authorities responsible on the basis of a political appraisal of the desired level of protection;

  12. 13. believes that, in selecting the risk management measures to be taken, consideration should be given to the whole range of measures enabling the desired level of protection to be achieved;

  13. 14. considers that all stages must be conducted in a transparent manner, in particular the risk assessment and management stages, including the monitoring of measures decided upon;

  14. 15. considers that civil society must be involved and special attention must be paid to consulting all interested parties as early as possible;

  15. 16. considers that appropriate means must be used for communicating information on scientific opinion and risk management measures;

  16. (p.388)
  17. 17. considers that measures must observe the principle of proportionality, taking account of short-term and long-term risks and aiming to achieve the desired high level of protection;

  18. 18. considers that measures must not be applied in a way resulting in arbitrary or unwarranted discrimination; where there are a number of possible means of attaining the same level of health or environmental protection, the least trade-restrictive measures should be opted for;

  19. 19. considers that measures should be consistent with measures already adopted in similar circumstances or following similar approaches, having due regard to the latest scientific developments and developments in the level of protection sought;

  20. 20. stresses that the measures adopted presuppose examination of the benefits and costs of action and inaction. This examination must take account of social and environmental costs and of the public acceptability of the different options possible, and include, where feasible, an economic analysis, it being understood that requirements linked to the protection of public health, including the effects of the environment on public health, must be given priority;

  21. 21. considers that decisions taken in accordance with the precautionary principle should be reviewed in the light of developments in scientific knowledge. To that end the impact of such decisions should be monitored and additional research conducted in order to reduce the level of uncertainty;

  22. 22. considers that, when determining measures taken in accordance with the precautionary principle and in monitoring them, the competent authorities should be able to decide case by case, on the basis of clear rules established at the appropriate level, who is responsible for providing the scientific data required for a fuller risk assessment; Such an obligation may vary according to the circumstances and the aim must be to strike a satisfactory balance between the public authorities, scientific bodies and economic operators, taking into account in particular the responsibility held by economic operators by virtue of their activities.’

Hard law

European Community Treaty

Article 2 EC Treaty

‘The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing common policies or activities referred to in Articles 3 and 4, to promote throughout the Community … a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment…

Article 6 EC Treaty

‘Environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Community policies referred to in Article 3, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development.’

Article 95(3) EC Treaty

‘The Commission, in its proposal envisaged in paragraph 1 concerning health, safety, environmental protection and consumer protection, will take as a base a high level of (p.389) protection, taking account in particular of any new development based on scientific facts. Within their respective powers, the European Parliament and the Council will also seek to achieve this objective.’

Article 152(1) EC Treaty

‘A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities…’

Article 153(1) EC Treaty

‘In order to promote the interests of consumers and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, the Community shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organise themselves in order to safeguard their interests…’

Article 174 EC Treaty

  1. 1. ‘Community policy on the environment shall contribute to pursuit of the following objectives:

    • preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment;

    • protecting human health;

    • prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources;

    • promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems.’

  2. 2. ‘Community policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Community. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay

  3. 3. ‘In preparing its policy on the environment, the Community shall take account of:

    • available scientific and technical data;

    • environmental conditions in the various regions of the Community;

    • the potential benefits and costs of action or lack of action;

    • the economic and social development of the Community as a whole and the balanced development of its regions…’

Porto Agreement of 2 May 1992 on the European Economic Area

Article 73(2): ‘Actions by the Contracting Parties relating to environment shall be based on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay. Environmental protection requirements shall be a component of the Contracting Parties’ other policies.’

Secondary law

Decision 80/372/EEC concerning Chlorofluorocarbons in the Environment

Preamble: ‘Whereas, in accordance with the common position of the Member States of 6 December 1978 and in accordance with recommendation III of the Munich Conference, a significant reduction should, as a precautionary measure, be achieved in the next few years in the use of chlorofluorocarbons giving rise to emissions…’

(p.390) Directive 93/67/EEC Laying Down the Principles for Assessment of Risks to Man and the Environment of Substances Notified in Accordance with Directive 67/548/EEC

‘Whereas the assessment of risks should be based on a comparison of the potential effects of a substance with the reasonably foreseeable exposure of man and the environment to that substance.’

Directive 96/61/EC concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control

Article 3: ‘Member States shall take the necessary measures to provide that the competent authorities ensure that installations are operated in such a way that:

  1. (a) all the appropriate preventive measures are taken against pollution, in particular through application of the best available techniques;

  2. (b) no significant pollution is caused;

  3. (e) the necessary measures are taken to prevent accidents and limit their consequences;

For the purposes of compliance with this Article, it shall be sufficient if Member States ensure that the competent authorities take account of the general principles set out in this Article when they determine the conditions of the permit.’

ANNEX IV: Considerations to be taken into account generally or in specific cases when determining best available techniques, as defined in Article 2(11), bearing in mind the likely costs and benefits of a measure and the principles of precaution and prevention:…

10. the need to prevent or reduce to a minimum the overall impact of the emissions on the environment and the risks to it;

11. the need to prevent accidents and to minimize the consequences for the environment;…’

Directive 96/82/EC on the Control of Major-Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances

Article 1: ‘This Directive is aimed at the prevention of major accidents which involve dangerous substances, and the limitation of their consequences for man and the environment, with a view to ensuring high levels of protection throughout the Community in a consistent and effective manner.’

Article 5(1): ‘Member States shall ensure that the operator is obliged to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for man and the environment.’

Directive 97/57/EC establishing Annex VI to Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the Placing of Plant Protection Products on the Market (Annex B, point 4)

‘In interpolating the results of evaluations, Member States shall take into consideration possible elements of uncertainty in the information obtained during the evaluation, in order to ensure that the chances of failing to detect adverse effects or of under-estimating their importance are reduced to a minimum’.

(p.391) Directive 98/81/EC modifying Directive 90/219/EEC on the Contained Use of Genetically Modified Micro-Organisms

Preamble:

  1. (1) ‘Whereas, within the meaning of the Treaty, action by the Community relating to the environment should be based on the principle that preventive action is to be taken and shall have as its objective to preserve, protect and improve the environment and to protect human health;

  2. (2) Whereas contained uses of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) should be classified in relation to the risks they present for human health and the environment; whereas such classification should be in line with international practice and based on an assessment of the risk;

  3. (3) Whereas in order to ensure a high level of protection the containment and other protective measures applied to a contained use must correspond to the classification of the contained use; whereas in case of uncertainty the appropriate containment and other protective measures for the higher classification should be applied until less stringent measures are justified by appropriate data;

Article 5:

  1. 1. Member States shall ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to avoid adverse effects on human health and the environment which might arise from the contained use of GMMs.

  2. 2. To this end the user shall carry out an assessment of the contained uses as regards the risks to human health and the environment that these contained uses may incur, using as a minimum the elements of assessment and the procedure set out in Annex III, sections A and B.

  3. 3. The assessment referred to in paragraph 2 shall result in the final classification of the contained uses in four classes applying the procedure set out in Annex III, which will result in the assignment of containment levels in accordance with Article 6.

  4. 4. Where there is doubt as to which class is appropriate for the proposed contained use, the more stringent protective measures shall be applied unless sufficient evidence, in agreement with the competent authority, justifies the application of less stringent measures.’

Directive 99/39/EC amending Directive 96/5/EC on Processed Cereal-Based Foods and Baby Foods

Preamble: ‘Whereas, taking into account the Community’s international obligations, in cases where the relevant scientific evidence is insufficient, the precautionary principle allows the Community to provisionally adopt measures on the basis of available pertinent information, pending on additional assessment of risk and a review of the measure within a reasonable period of time.’

Directive 2001/18/EC on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms and Repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC

Article 1: ‘In accordance with the precautionary principle, the objective of this Directive is … to protect human health and the environment when carrying out the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms for any other purposes than placing on the market within the Community; placing on the market genetically modified organisms as or in products within the Community.’

Article 4: ‘Member States, in accordance with the precautionary principle, shall ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to avoid adverse effects on human health and the (p.392) environment which might arise from the deliberate release or the placing on the market of GMOs. GMOs may only be deliberately release or placed on the market…’

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council Laying Down the General Principles and Requirements of Food Law, Establishing the European Food Safety Authority and Laying Down Procedures in Matters of Food Safety

Preamble:

  1. (19) ‘It is recognised that scientific risk assessment alone cannot, in some cases, provide all the information on which a risk management decision should be based, and that other factors relevant to the matter under consideration should legitimately be taken into account including societal, economic, traditional, ethical and environmental factors and the feasibility of controls.

  2. (20) The precautionary principle has been invoked to ensure health protection in the Community, thereby giving rise to barriers to the free movement of food or feed. Therefore it is necessary to adopt a uniform basis throughout the Community for the use of this principle.

  3. (21) In those specific circumstances where a risk to life or health exists but scientific uncertainty persists, the precautionary principle provides a mechanism for determining risk management measures or other actions in order to ensure the high level of health protection chosen in the Community.’

Article 7. Precautionary principle

  1. 1. ‘In specific circumstances where, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures necessary to ensure the high level of health protection chosen in the Community may be adopted, pending further scientific information for a more comprehensive risk assessment.

  2. 2. Measures adopted on the basis of paragraph 1 shall be proportionate and no more restrictive of trade than is required to achieve the high level of health protection chosen in the Community, regard being had to technical and economic feasibility and other factors regarded as legitimate in the matter under consideration. The measures shall be reviewed within a reasonable period of time, depending on the nature of the risk to life or health identified and the type of scientific information needed to clarify the scientific uncertainty and to conduct a more comprehensive risk assessment.’

3. NATIONAL LAWS

Australia

1991 New South Wales Protection of the Environment Administration Act

‘If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

(p.393) 1992 Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment

Section 3(5)(1): ‘Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. In the application of the precautionary principle, public and private decisions should be guided by: (i) careful evaluation to avoid, wherever practicable, serious or irreversible damage to the environment; and (ii) an assessment of risk-weighted consequences of various options.’

1994 New South Wales Fisheries Management Act

Section 30: ‘The TAC Committee is also to have regard to:… (c) the precautionary principle, namely, that if there are threats of serious or irreversible damage to fish stocks, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent that damage.’

1999 Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

Section 391: ‘The Minister must take account of the precautionary principle in making a decision listed in the table in subsection (3), to the extent that he or she can do so consistently with the other provisions of this Act.’

‘The precautionary principle is that lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing a measure to prevent degradation of the environment where there are threats of serious irreversible environmental damage.’

Belgium

1995 Act of the Flemish Region concerning Environmental Policy

‘Environmental policy shall seek to achieve a high level of protection… It shall be based on the precautionary principle, on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source, the standstill principle and the polluter pays principle.’

1999 Federal Act Aimed at Protection of the Marine Environment in the Maritime Areas under Belgian jurisdiction

Article 4(1): ‘The users of the maritime areas and the public authorities shall take into consideration the principle of preventive action, the precautionary principle, the principle of long-term management, the polluter pays principle and the restoration principle when carrying out their activities in these areas.

(2) The principle of preventive action implies that action must be taken to prevent environmental damage rather than having to repair the damage afterwards.

(3) The precautionary principle means that preventive measures must be taken if there are reasonable grounds for concern about pollution of the maritime areas, even in cases (p.394) where there is no conclusive evidence of a causal connection between the introduction of substances, energy and materials into the maritime areas and the harmful effects.

(4) The principle of long-term management in the maritime areas implies that the natural resources are kept available in sufficient quantities for future generations and that the effects of human activity do not exceed the capacity of the environment in the maritime areas. To this end, the ecosystems and the ecological processes necessary for the proper functioning of the marine environment shall be protected, its biological diversity preserved and nature conservation stimulated.

(5) The polluter pays principle means that the costs of measures to prevent, limit and control pollution and to repair any damage are to be borne by the polluter.

(6) The restoration principle implies that, in case of damage or environmental disruption in the maritime areas, the marine environment is restored to its original condition as much as possible.

Article 5. Any person carrying out an activity in the maritime areas is obliged to take the necessary precautions to prevent damage and environmental disruption. More particularly, shipowners are obliged to take all the necessary precautions to prevent and limit pollution.’

Denmark

1998 Environmental Protection Act No. 698

Article 1(1): ‘The purpose of this Act is to contribute to safeguarding nature and environment, thus enabling a sustainable social development in respect for human conditions of life and for the conservation of flora and fauna.

  1. (2) The objectives of this Act are in particular:

    1. (1) to prevent and combat pollution of air, water, soil and subsoil, and nuisances caused by vibration and noise,

    2. (2) to provide for regulations based on hygienic considerations which are significant to Man and the environment,

    3. (3) to reduce the use and wastage of raw materials and other resources,

    4. (4) to promote the use of cleaner technology, and—to promote recycling and reduce problems in connection with waste disposal.

Article 3 (1): In the administration of this Act weight shall be given to the results achievable by using the least polluting technology, including least polluting raw materials, processes and plants and the best practicable pollution control measures. In this evaluation special consideration shall be given to preventive measures in the form of cleaner technology.

  1. (2) When determining the extent and nature of measures to prevent pollution consideration shall be given to:

    1. (1) the nature of the physical surroundings and the likely impact of pollution thereon, and

    2. (2) the whole cycle of substances and materials, with a view to minimizing wastage of resources.

Article 4(1): Any party proposing to commence activities likely to cause pollution shall choose such site for the activities that the risk of pollution is minimized.

(2) When choosing such site consideration shall be given to the nature of the area, including present and planned future uses, and to the possibilities for appropriate disposal of wastewater and waste.

(p.395)

(3) Any party commencing or carrying out activities likely to cause pollution shall take measures to prevent and combat pollution and design and operate the activities so as to cause the least degree of pollution, cf. section 3 above. In the design and operation of the plant, including choice of production processes, raw materials and auxiliary substances, measures shall be taken to minimize the use of resources, pollution and generation of waste.

(4) Any person giving rise to or causing risks of pollution of air, water, soil or subsoil, shall take the measures required to effectively prevent or combat the impact of pollution. In addition, he shall seek to restore the original state of the environment.’

Finland

2000 Environmental Protection Act No. 86/2000

Article 1: ‘The objective of this Act is:

  1. 3. to prevent the pollution of the environment and to repair and reduce damage caused by pollution;

  2. 4. to safeguard a healthy, pleasant ecologically diverse and sustainable environment;

  3. 5. to prevent the generation and the harmful effects of waste.’

Article 4: ‘The following principles apply to activities that pose a risk of pollution:

  1. (1) harmful environmental impact shall be prevented or, when it cannot be prevented completely, reduced to a minimum (principle of preventing and minimizing harmful impact);

  2. (2) the proper care and caution shall be taken to prevent pollution as entailed by the nature of the activity, and the probability of pollution, risk of accident and opportunities to prevent accidents and limit their effects shall be taken into account (principle of caution and care);

  3. (3) the best available technique shall be used (principle of best available technique) … combinations of various methods, such as work methods, shall be used and such raw materials and fuels shall be selected as provide appropriate and cost-efficient means to prevent pollution (principle of best environmental practice).’

France

2000 French Environmental Code

Article L101-1: ‘I. Natural areas, resources and environments, special sites and landscapes, animal and plant species, biodiversity and the biological systems to which they belong are part of the national patrimony.

II. Their protection, development, restoration, reparation and management are part of the public interest and … draw inspiration, within the framework of the laws defining their effect, from the following principles:

  1. 1 The precautionary principle, according to which the absence of certainty, taking account of the current state of scientific and technical knowledge, ought not to delay the adoption of effective and proportionate measures intended to prevent the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the environment, at an economically acceptable cost;

  2. 2 The principle of preventive action and rectification of damage to the environment as a priority at source, using best available techniques not entailing excessive cost;

  3. (p.396)
  4. 3 the polluter-pays principle, according to which the costs resulting from measures to prevent, reduce and fight pollution should be borne by the polluter;

  5. 4 the principle of participation, according to which each citizen should have access to information relating to the environment, including information relating to dangerous substances and activities.’

Article L101-2: ‘Laws and rules provide the right of all people to a healthy environment… It is the duty of each individual to help safeguard and contribute to the protection of the environment. Public and private persons should conform to these requirements in all their activities.’

Germany

1959 Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz)

§7: ‘The authorisation may only be granted if the precautions demanded by the current level of scientific and technical knowledge are taken against possible damage caused by the establishment or operation of the installation.’

1973 Act for Protection against Harmful Environmental Effects on Air Pollution, Noise, Vibrations and Similar Processes (BImSchG)

§5: ‘Installations subject to authorisation are to be constructed and operated in such a manner that:

  1. 1. No detrimental environmental effects or other hazards, noticeable adverse effects and nuisance to the public and the neighbourhood are caused.

  2. 2. Precaution is taken against damaging environmental effects, in particular by means of measures for the control of emissions in accordance with the state of technology.’

1993 Biotechnology Act (Gentechnikgesetz)

§6 (2): ‘In conformity with the current level of science and technology, the operator must take all measures to protect the rights set out in §1, no. 1 and to anticipate the creation of dangers…

§13: ‘Authorisation for the operation and establishment of a biotechnology installation … may not be granted until:…

  1. (4) It is guaranteed that the measures required have been taken at all necessary levels of protection, in conformity with the current level of science and technology, and this without it being necessary to wait for damaging effects by emissions on the rights protected under §1, no. 1.’

Sweden

Section 2: ‘Persons who pursue an activity or take a measure, or intend to do so, must possess the knowledge that is necessary in view of the nature and scope of the activity or measure to protect human health and the environment against damage or detriment.’

Section 3(1): ‘Persons who pursue an activity or take a measure, or intend to do so, shall implement protective measures, comply with restrictions and take any other precautions that are necessary in order to prevent or hinder damage or detriment to human health or (p.397) the environment as a result of the activity or measure. For the same reason, the best available technology shall be used in connection with professional activities.

(2) Such precautions shall be taken as soon as there is cause to assume that an activity or measure may cause damage or detriment to human health or the environment.’

Section 6: ‘Persons who pursue an activity or take a measure, or intend to do so, shall avoid using or selling chemical products or biotechmcal organisms that may involve risks to human health or the environment if products or organisms that are less dangerous can be used instead. The same requirement shall apply to goods that contain or are treated with a chemical product or a biotechmcal organism.’

Section 7(1) ‘The rules of consideration laid down in sections 2 to 6 shall be applicable where compliance cannot be deemed unreasonable. Particular importance shall be attached in this connection to the benefits of protective measures and other precautions in relation to their cost. The cost-benefit relationship shall also be taken into account in assessments relating to total defence activities or where a total defence measure is necessary.

(2) A decision reached in accordance with subsection (1) must not entail infringement of an environmental quality standard referred to in chapter 5.’

1999 Guidelines on Chemicals Policy

3. ‘Man-made organic substances that are persistent and bioaccumulative occur in production processes only if the producer can show that health and the environment will not be harmed. Permits and terms of the Environmental Code are devised in such a way as to guarantee this guideline.’

United Kingdom

1990 White Paper This Common Inheritance: Britain’s Environmental Strategy

‘We must act on facts, and on the most accurate interpretation of them, using the best scientific and economic information… That does not mean we must sit back until we have 100% evidence about everything. Where the state of our planet is at stake, the risks can be so high and the costs of corrective action so great, that prevention is better and cheaper than cure. We must analyse the possible benefits and costs both of action and of inaction. Where there are significant risks of damage to the environment, the government will be prepared to take precautionary action to limit the use of potentially dangerous materials or the spread of potentially dangerous pollutants, even where scientific knowledge is not conclusive, if the balance of likely costs and benefits justifies it. The precautionary principle applies particularly where there are good grounds for judging either that action taken promptly at comparatively low cost may avoid more costly damage later, or that irreversible effects may follow if action is delayed.’

(p.398)