An Inconvenient Deliberation: The Precautionary Principle's Contribution to the Uncertainties Surrounding Climate Change Liabllity (Climate Change Law, Policy and Practice Series)

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9789041135216: An Inconvenient Deliberation: The Precautionary Principle's Contribution to the Uncertainties Surrounding Climate Change Liabllity (Climate Change Law, Policy and Practice Series)

There is increasing evidence to suggest that adaptation to the inevitable is as relevant to climate change policymaking as mitigation efforts. Both mitigation and adaptation, as well as the unavoidable damage occurring both now and that is predicted to occur, all involve costs at the expense of diverse climate change victims. The allocation of responsibilities--implicit in terms of the burden-sharing mechanisms that currently exist in public and private governance--demands recourse under liability law, especially as it has become clear that most companies will only start reducing emissions if verifiable costs of the economic consequences of climate change, including the likelihood of liability, outweigh the costs of taking precautionary measures.

This vitally important book asks: Can the precautionary principle make uncertainty judiciable in the context of liability for the consequences of climate change, and, if so, to what extent? Drawing on the full range of pertinent existing literature and case law, the author examines the precautionary principle both in terms of its content and application and in the context of liability law. She analyses the indirect means offered by existing legislation being used by environmental groups and affected individuals before the courts to challenge both companies and regulators as responsible agents of climate change damage.

In the process of responding to its fundamental question, the analysis explores such further questions as the following:

  • What is the role of the precautionary principle in resolving uncertainty in scientific risk assessment when faced with inconclusive evidence, and how does it affect decision-making, particularly in the regulatory choices concerning climate change?
  • To this end, what is the concrete content of the precautionary principle?
  • How does liability law generally handle scientific uncertainty?
  • What different types of liability exist, and how are they equipped to handle a climate change liability claim?
  • What type of liability is best suited for precautionary measures or a lack thereof?
  • Can the application of the precautionary principle make a difference to the outcomes of climate change liability claims?

In order to draw conclusions concerning the legal uncertainties posed by climate change, the author draws examples from national legislations representative of the various legal systems, as well as from existing treaties. General rules and obligations relevant to climate change liability are examined, and a selection of actual legal cases from around the world concerning climate change, be it actual liability claims or litigation indirectly relevant to a claim, is also presented.

As an overview of the different legal challenges created by climate change liability, this book is without peer. The practical meaning and impact of these findings for lawyers (whether corporate or activist), for regulators and policymakers, and for decision-makers in governmental bodies and private companies is immeasurable.

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Haritz, Miriam
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