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The Precautionary Principle: A Thrill Ride on the Roller Coaster of Energy and Climate Law

Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 38-49, 2009

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/10

21 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010  

Rosemary Lyster

The University of Sydney Law School

Eric Coonan

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: January 5, 2010

Abstract

The International Energy Agency has reported that, in 2007, fossil fuels were the source of 66% of global energy production, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that 60% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions in 2004 were carbon dioxide emissions from the stationary energy sector. This article relies on recent case law in Australia to assess the extent to which the precautionary principle is a relevant consideration for development consent authorities determining applications for coal-fired power stations, coal mines, wind farms and uranium mines. What emerges is that there is really no certainty that the precautionary principle will be applied consistently by Australian Courts to determine the legal responsibilities of decision-makers assessing energy projects. In this sense, the precautionary principle has taken a thrill ride on the roller coaster of energy and climate law in Australia.

Keywords: the precautionary principle, consent authorities, coal-fired power stations, coal mines, wind farms, uranium mines, climate change, climate change litigation

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Lyster, Rosemary and Coonan, Eric, The Precautionary Principle: A Thrill Ride on the Roller Coaster of Energy and Climate Law (January 5, 2010). Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 38-49, 2009; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1532014

Rosemary Lyster (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Eric Coonan

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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