Precautionary principle: dead or alive?


“We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.” The words of President Obama spoken yesterday in anticipation of Hurricane Irene represent a straight-speaking version of the precautionary principle.

A few hours later the president’s State Department took the reverse approach in clearing the Keystone XL pipeline. Endorsing the extraction of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands decisively rejects scientific advice based on the precautionary principle in relation to damaging climate change.

The final decision on the pipeline will now be kicked upstairs to Hillary Clinton and Obama. They should bear in mind that the precautionary principle is written into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of which the US is a signatory.

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this post was first published by OneWorld UK

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