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Peter-Tobias Stoll

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Peter-Tobias Stoll

Chapter 8 discusses the regulation of the precautionary approach at EU level, with a particular focus on the role that the innovation principle plays – or could play – in this regard. The precautionary principle divides commentators. Some see it as a pointless and potentially dangerous principle that hinders progress, while others believe that it helps protect human health and the environment from complex hazards. In this context, industry groups, in 2015, proposed an innovation principle to prevent the precautionary principle from halting innovation. The precautionary principle enables decision-makers to adopt precautionary measures when scientific evidence on an environmental or human health hazard is uncertain and the stakes are high. It is a way of addressing scientific uncertainty, which may arise in a variety of situations: complexity (systemic and complex problems, where the probability of outcomes is unknown), ambiguity (contested framings and diverging values, where the outcomes are unknown), and ignorance (unanticipated effects, where the unknowns are unknown). It is particularly relevant in light of the fact that scientific studies are designed to minimize false negatives and that past cases have shown that adverse effects on environment and health often turn out to be more diversified and extensive than initially anticipated. In case of scientific uncertainty, policymakers may rely on information from stakeholders and/or science–policy interfaces, which may be conflicting. A decision to apply the precautionary principle in a legislative process needs to assess the seriousness and irreversibility of the threat and will ultimately be based on the values of the decision-makers. Cases where the precautionary principle has been applied include climate change, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), declining bee populations and asbestos. Cases where the precautionary principle could potentially be applied – as a result of scientific uncertainty, high stakes and possibly irreversible outcomes – include certain aspects relating to pesticides and nanomaterials. Over the past decade, the European Union has, in order to respond to scientific uncertainty and the need for innovation, used the concept of ‘responsible research and innovation’, now a cross-cutting theme in the Horizon 2020 framework for research and innovation. Precaution and innovation can go hand in hand if the precautionary principle promotes a diversity of technologies, allowing it to keep options open and to increase the resilience of our societies.

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Peter-Tobias Stoll

Abstract For their further existence and well-being, the globe and humankind rely on the climate and its stability, which are impacted by greenhouse gas emission all over the globe. In general public debate and in social sciences terminology, the climate undoubtedly is seen as a global common which is in need of collective action in order for it to be preserved. Different concepts and developments of international law reflect this need. In the case of the climate, the UNFCCC speaks more specifically about climate change as a common concern of humankind. Rather because of the rules and commitments under the UNFCCC regime than because of the term ‘common concern’ as such, international law can be said to reflect the nature of and serve the climate as a global common.
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Peter-Tobias Stoll

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Edited by Lorenzo Squintani, Jan Darpö, Luc Lavrysen and Peter-Tobias Stoll

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Lorenzo Squintani, Jan Darpö, Luc Lavrysen and Peter-Tobias Stoll

This chapter brings to the foreground the tension perceivable in the field between the need to engage the public and the need for professional expertise in environmental governance. Indeed, not only can public opinion deviate from scientific knowledge, scientific knowledge itself can be lacunose or contradictory. In this chapter, the structure of the book is explained and the focal point of each chapter composing the book is provided.

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Lorenzo Squintani, Jan Darpö, Luc Lavrysen and Peter-Tobias Stoll

This chapter reflects on the unique insight into techniques for the reconciliation of facts and feelings – two main components of environmental decision-making procedures – offered by the various contributions composing this book. This insight reveals a path leading to a new role for environmental administrations and courts in decision-making procedures. Accordingly, this chapter discusses how the progressive relevance of public participation procedures and science-based reasoning, coupled with the development of digital means of communication and decision-making, open the door to what can be called ‘environmental administration 3.0’.

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Edited by Lorenzo Squintani, Jan Darpö, Luc Lavrysen and Peter-Tobias Stoll

This timely book brings to the foreground the considerable tensions between the need to engage the public in the importance of environmental governance and the need of professional expertise to address the issues which arise. In doing so, it highlights that not only can public opinion deviate from scientific knowledge, but scientific knowledge itself can be lacunose or contradicting. Drawing together insights from some of the leading scholars, this engaging work will provide guidance to decision makers, including judges, on how to govern public participation procedures and professional expertise and the role that the precautionary principle can play in this regard.