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This chapter concerns two key concepts of environmental law: environmental principles and environmental policy. Both concepts are well known to those who study and practise UK and EU law, but that familiarity can be deceiving when it comes to understanding their role in environmental law, because both principles and policy perform important, distinctive, and evolving functions. Environmental principles are highly symbolic ideas of environmental policy that have been developing prominent roles in environmental law globally, including in EU environmental law. Environmental policy is often implicated in environmental law regimes because of the need to respond quickly to changing circumstances and provide detailed and technical guidance in complex policy areas. Determining the legal implications of extensive reliance on policy in environmental law is thus important. Exploring both these distinctive legal features of environmental law—principle and policy—helps to elucidate different aspects of environmental law as a subject, interrogating the jurisprudential nature of environmental law and revealing key characteristics of its developing doctrine.

Chapter

This chapter examines environmental law and policy in the European Union, considering Union powers and the international context. It discusses the framework for Union environmental law and policy; environmental principles; European Union environmental law by sector; trade in endangered species; nature conservation; environmental protection implementation and enforcement; and environmental litigation.

Chapter

This chapter reviews environmental law and policy in the European Union, considering Union powers and the international context. It discusses the framework for Union environmental law and policy; environmental principles; European Union environmental law by sector; trade in endangered species; nature conservation; environmental protection implementation and enforcement; and environmental litigation.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the role of international law in addressing environmental problems. It reviews the salient legal principles: the preventive principle, the precautionary principle, the concept of sustainable development, the polluter-pays principle, the sic utere tuo principle, and the obligation of environmental impact assessment. It gives an overview of the key multilateral conventions covering traffic in endangered species, protection of the ozone layer, transboundary movement of hazardous wastes, climate change, and protection of the marine environment.

Chapter

Stuart Bell, Donald McGillivray, Ole W. Pedersen, Emma Lees, and Elen Stokes

This chapter focuses on the complexity of environmental problems, which is one of its defining characteristics in the sense that there are often many interconnected, variable elements to the problem. It considers the interaction between values and environmental law, which involves some reflection on differing attitudes to the environment. The chapter examines some of the ways in which these values are translated into environmental principles, such as the goal of sustainable development or the Precautionary Principle; it then goes on to consider the question of whether these principles have legal status in the sense that they create legally enforceable rights and duties. Finally, it considers broader questions of environmental justice and the role of different types of rights in environmental protection.

Chapter

This chapter studies the development of international environmental law. A significant proportion of international environmental law obligations is contained in treaties, which often provide for institutional mechanisms or procedural obligations for their implementation. There exists a dense network of treaty obligations relating to environmental protection, and to specific sectors such as climate change, the conservation of endangered species, or the handling of toxic materials. Indeed, though customary international law knows of no general legal obligation to protect and preserve the environment, certain customary rules nevertheless have been found in specific treaties, case law, and occasionally even soft law instruments. The most significant such rule is the principles of prevention, often taking the form of the ‘good neighbour’ principle. States are required to exercise due diligence in preventing their territory from being used in such a way so as to cause significant damage to the environment of another state.