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VIII. The Precautionary Principle

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Chapter Summary

By the end of the twentieth century, in the respective regimes of air pollution and climate change, the importance of taking a precautionary approach was well established. According to Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration from the 1992 Earth Summit, a precautionary approach is, where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. The thinning ozone layer represented a problem that was unexpected in both causation and location, that confounded earlier predictions. This situation demonstrated two lessons to the international community. First, science cannot always predict the ways in which ecosystems will react. Second, waiting for actual 'proof ' may involve taking unjustified risks with the Earth's ecology.

Keywords: 1992 Earth Summit; earth's ecology; environmental degradation; ozone layer; precautionary approach; Principle 15; Rio Declaration



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