White Paper on Regulatory Options for the Arctic

Direct Access to White Paper at Arctic Regulation 2 01 15


The year 2015 is going to be a pivotal year in the development of the Arctic; the US is going assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council and EU is going to make a determined effort to be admitted as an official observer to the Arctic Council.

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE), who provides staff support to the Pan Arctic Forum, believes that the development of the Arctic resources should be science based and that the EU’s adoption of the precautionary principle is inconsistent with that objective. Consequently the EU proposal for admittance as an observer should not be considered until which time it revokes the precautionary principle.

CRE also believes that Norway, a member of the Arctic Council, has an information-based  regulatory regime which should be followed by all parties involved in the development of the Arctic.

CRE sets forward its views in a draft  proposal to the  Arctic Council Arctic Regulation 2 01 15  which is being made available to the public for comment.

Copies of the CRE proposal have been sent to the government officials who are making presentations at the EU sponsored event in Brussels on 11 September titled The EU in the Arctic, The Arctic in the EU.

2 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Gunnar Sander

    I have read briefly through your analysis of Norwegian versus EU regulations on offshore. This was interesting. It reveals different approaches in first of all the scope of regulations, where the Norwegian tradition for Impact Assessments is that they should encompass all issues, whereas other jurisdictions often legislate that they at least should encompass the environment (hence Environmental Impact Assessment – eventually supplemented by other strands of assessments). I did not find the use of precaution to be radically different in the two pieces of regulations you analyze.

    However, reading the text above, I am sorry to say that it makes little sense. Interests supporting petroleum expansion may think that a vide use of the precautionary principle is not in their interests. But advocating that the principle should be revoked, is throwing the baby out with the bathing water and completely against a fundamental principle in environmental law that is videly recognized and necessary to apply.

    I will recommend studying the two issues of “Late lessons from early warnings” published by EEA, that demonstrates what may happen when precaution is ignored. See http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/late-lessons-2 for the second report, http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environmental_issue_report_2001_22 for the first one. This is science based, not ideology.

    The second issue which simply makes me smile, is that you seem to see an “information-based regulatory regime” in Norway as not including use of the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle is videly reqarded in Norway. The practical application of it is a matter of different attitudes to risks and political discussion. Since your article links this to the Arctic, it is tempting to refer to the Svalbard Environmental Act. Under description of its guiding principles, article 7 (the precautionary principle) states that: “When an administrative body lacks adequate information on the effects that an undertaking may have on the natural environment or cultural heritage, its authority under this Act shall be exercised in a manner designed to avoid possible damage to the environment.”

    So maybe there should be a campaign against Norwegian membership in the Arctic Council until the Norwegian government revokes the precautionary principle?


    Gunnar Sander

  2. The CRE

    We appreciate Mr. Sander’s informed comment.
    Most importantly it clear that Mr. Sander understands the thrust of our paper, the EU should not be given observer status until which time they revoke the precautionary principle.
    A related point is that Norway has a holistic regulatory system in place which is not wedded to one overlaying principle.
    Now with respect to whether Norway has adopted the precautionary principle and if so, whether to the same degree as the EU, we refer our readers to a Norwegian publication:
    The precautionary principle between research and politics: The National Research Ethical Committee for Natural Science and Technology (NENT)
    The authors state in response to the following statement:

    “Taking precautions means that we should not let any species or ecotype disappear before we have understood its place in the ecosystem and evolution, so that we can guarantee local and global stability without the existence of that species. This means in practice that we cannot allow any species to be exterminated in the foreseeable future.”

    “One may ask whether one can in practice live up to such an absolute interpretation. A legalization of such thoughts would result in clear rights for nature at the species level. This has not been discussed at a political or legal level in Norway.”
    Mr. Sander’s comment requires a more extensive review of the alternative definitions of the precautionary principle, whether it is legally binding or merely a political statement and whether it is exercised during risk management or risk assessment.
    CRE will address these concerns in a forthcoming White Paper.

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