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21 - The polluter pays principle: dilemmas of justice in national and international contexts

from Part VI - Corporate activities and trade

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2009

Jonas Ebbesson
Stockholms Universitet
Phoebe Okowa
Queen Mary University of London
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The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) is one of the internationally recognized principles that influence the shaping of environmental policy at both the national and international level. As one of the environmental principles that have developed ‘from political slogans to legal rules,’ it is also increasingly reflected in national and international law.

It is seen and analyzed both as a principle of environmental economics and as a principle of environmental law. In environmental economics, it is discussed as an efficiency principle of internalization of environmental costs. As a legal principle, it is usually treated as a principle for the allocation of the cost of pollution prevention, and for liability and compensation for environmental damage.

In general, it is regarded as an important and ‘right’ principle in the perspective of environmental protection. It is often mentioned together with other major environmental principles such as the precautionary principle, the principle of prevention and the principle of integration.

The PPP is expressed in numerous international recommendations and treaties. For example, it was included in the EC Treaty in 1987 in Article 130R of the Single European Act (now Article 174 of the EC Treaty), which states that the policy of the Community ‘should be based on the principle…that the polluter should pay’. It is also expressed in the 1992 Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (‘Rio Declaration’) as Principle 16. The meaning of the principle in international instruments is not always clear, and it differs.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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