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John Paterson

Systems theory characterizes the most complex problems confronting environmental law as essentially fractured among a variety of functional communicative systems. Taking this insight seriously, however, reveals that the most advanced tools of environmental law, such as the principle of precaution, must also be understood as similarly fractured. Noting the controversy that surrounds the principle, this chapter sets out to discover whether the disagreements may best be understood as arising from different system-specific constructions and whether such a finding might help to favour constructions which leave open its potential for rational decision making rather than those which essentially mistake it for other principles. This endeavour in turn calls for a methodological approach which can be efficiently deployed in an appropriate setting in order to tease out different system-specific constructions. Critical discourse analysis is proposed and applied in the reading of a key court judgement relating to the implementation of the principle in the context of a regulatory decision. The compatibility of critical discourse analysis with systems theory is addressed, with the suggestion being made that this can be achieved by understanding the latter as in essence the critique of critique. The hope is expressed that the chapter’s findings encourage others to consider the advantages that may be gained from understanding complex environmental law problems in terms of systems theory and specifically with the assistance of critical discourse analysis.

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John Paterson

Abstract Health and safety and environmental protection have historically been dealt with separately, in terms both of regulatory instruments and regulatory authorities. This is surprising, given that many oil companies have for decades dealt with these internally within one department. The problems of regulatory separation were exposed in particular by the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo disaster, which gave rise to the development of a more integrated regulatory approach. In order to understand the challenges facing this new approach, this chapter briefly considers the traditional regulatory treatment of the two issues separately, before moving on to provide an assessment of the initiatives in the US and the EU. The chapter pinpoints and scrutinises the apparent strengths and weaknesses of both regimes, before identifying possible pathways for further research.
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John Paterson and Ruven C Fleming

Abstract The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a creature of crisis. Understanding the organisation – how it is set up and how it acts – thus first requires understanding of what the IEA perceives itself to be, a perception intrinsically linked to its formative moments. Accordingly, while protecting the environment, developing alternative sources of renewable and clean energy, and making efforts to reduce energy consumption are all included in the foundational Agreement on an International Energy Program, they do not feature very prominently. Instead, their inclusion must be understood, at least at the outset, as being motivated by concerns of over-dependency on foreign oil, most notably from OPEC countries. Nevertheless, while the IEA still has a key energy security function, the role of the organisation itself has evolved – encouraging states to adopt policies to improve all aspects of the energy trilemma in the coming decades is representative of this evolution. This chapter traces this evolution, analysing the extent to which the IEA offers meaningful leadership in balancing the three arms of the trilemma, and identifying any weaknesses in this regard. In so far as any such weaknesses exist, the chapter concludes by identifying opportunities for further research that could attempt to address them.
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Greg Gordon and John Paterson

This chapter begins by setting out the UK’s idiosyncratic constitutional arrangements (uncodified constitution, devolution) before considering the country’s evolving energy situation (from net exporter to import dependence, increasing role of renewables). Petroleum licensing arrangements are then considered, with particular attention paid to the discretionary nature of the system, the evolution of licensing forms, the emergent role of the Oil and Gas Authority and the concept of Maximising Economic Recovery, and the transformations under way in the context of the UK’s exit from the EU. Whilst the focus is on the offshore area, onshore arrangements for shale gas are also discussed.

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Preben H. Lindøe, Michael Baram and John Paterson