Environmental Principles and Environmental Justice
32 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 20, 2010
This paper aims at analysing the congruence between the well-established environmental law principles of precaution, prevention, polluter pays and sustainable development and environmental justice. While much can be said (and much has been said) about the principles, the aim of this paper is not to provide a full-fledged analysis of the principles. Instead, this paper aims to start a debate on the role of environmental justice as a concept and its compatibility with the more well-established norms of environmental policy and law. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, in light of the emergence of environmental justice as a concept in the UK and Europe, it is important to attempt to define the boundaries and meaning of the concept. Secondly, while environmental justice and its emphasis on fair distribution and processes on the face of it seems benign, it is important to subject the concept to critical scrutiny, given the possible implications of its claims of injustices. Equally, given the pervasiveness of the well-established environmental principles it becomes relevant to question these principles in the name of justice in an attempt to further debate about their longevity. The paper argues that for all three of the principles a comparison with environmental justice gives rise to conflicts as well as conformity. The main reason for this is the inherent ambiguity and inconsistency of environmental justice and the three principles.
Keywords: Environmental justice, precautionary principle, polluter pays principle and sustainable development
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