Valuing Foreign Disasters in International Environmental Law

12 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by Arden Rowell

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law

Lesley Wexler

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: October 28, 2015

Abstract

This book chapter argues that explicit valuation of foreign disasters can help policymakers think through the relative value of foreign and international disaster policies as against other demands on the public’s resources. It identifies the valuation decisions that policymakers inevitably face when developing international disaster policy, and argues that foreign disaster contexts present distinctive political, philosophical, psychosocial, and practical features that should be understood to distinguish foreign disaster valuation from domestic disaster valuation. In light of the complexity of foreign disaster valuation, the chapter argues that explicit — rather than implicit — valuation processes offer useful features to policymakers, by helping to systemize the complexity of competing risks and obligations, and by acting as a tonic to the intuitive and heuristic psychological processes that may otherwise underlie implicit valuations of foreign harms. Finally, the chapter identifies specific opportunities in international environmental law for incorporating explicit valuation into policymaking. These opportunities include verifying the satisfaction of threshold conditions to trigger legal requirements; choosing among multiple feasible compliance strategies; adding content to common but differentiated responsibilities; operationalizing the precautionary principle; and justifying the creation of legal strategies for special disaster risks such as those that are truly uncertain or those with extremely damaging potential outcomes.

Keywords: disaster law, international environmental law, cost-benefit analysis, valuation, risk, foreign, domestic, international treaties, climate change, Social Cost of Carbon, statistical lives, resource allocation, cosmopolitanism, psychology, common but differentiated responsibilities, precautionary prin

JEL Classification: F35, A13, K32, K33, K30

Suggested Citation

Rowell, Arden and Wexler, Lesley M., Valuing Foreign Disasters in International Environmental Law (October 28, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2682686 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2682686

Arden Rowell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Lesley M. Wexler

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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