Late lessons from early warnings the precautionary principle 1896-2000 by pptfiles

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									„ Late lessons from early warnings
the precautionary principle 1896-2000‟

Domingo Jiménez-Beltrán Executive Director Barcelona, 13 March 2002

„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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What is the Precautionary Principle?
……. a tool for better decision making… and better use of science:

“The precautionary principle is a general rule of public policy action to be used in situations of potentially serious or irreversible threats to health or the environment, where there is a need to act to reduce potential hazards before there is strong proof of harm, taking into account the likely costs and benefits of action and inaction”
„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002

(“Late lessons”, p13)

‟Where is the knowledge we lost in information and where is the wisdom we lost in data ?‟
T.S. Eliot

„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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„…my most fundamental objective is to urge a change in the perception and evaluation of familiar data‟

Thomas S. Kuhn „The structure of scientific revolutions‟, 1962

„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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Some Tasks of the EEA
In order to „achieve the aims of environmental protection and improvement, as well as sustainable development…‟ the tasks of the EEA are:

… to provide the Community and Member States with the objective information necessary for framing and implementing sound and effective environmental policy… … to ensure the broad dissemination of reliable and comparable environmental information …… to the general public…“

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Why produce this report?
• Requests from socio-economic agents (industries, NGOs…) for information on the Precautionary Principle • Support and follow up to the Commission‟s Communication on the Precautionary Principle and the EU debate on science and governance

• To adapt monitoring/reporting systems to new conditions (uncertainty & complexity)

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Commission Communication (2000) on Precautionary Principle
Personal reflections of main contributions:.

1. Extend it beyond environment (Art. 174) to health (human, animal, plant) and make it a general principle to protect basic rights (pre-eminence ove economics). 2. Develop a framework for implementation (make case/early warnings trigger precautionary principle  risk management  interactive proces 3. Consolidate a basic elements. Right for parties (WT to fix level of protection (safety) to clarify burd proof (reverse?)
„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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Commission Communication (2000) on Precautionary Principle
Personal reflections of main contributions:.

1. Extend it beyond environment (Art. 174) to health (human, animal, plant) and makes it a general principle to protect basic rights (pre-eminence ove economics). 2. Develop a framework for implementation (make case/early warnings trigger precautionary principle  risk management  interactive proces 3. Consolidate a basic elements. Right for parties (WT to fix level of protection (safety) to clarify burd proof (reverse?)
„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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Relevance of “Late Lessons” to some current EU and country issues:
• • The reviews of EU & country chemicals policies Endocrine Disrupting Substances: EU and country strategies

•
• •

Climate Change: scientific debate and actions
Science, Governance and the Citizen: debates and actions EU and Country Environmental liability measures

•
•

“Internalisation of External costs” – Energy, Water, Transport…..
Other emerging issues.

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The science/policy context for this reportI Context
Some recent issues: • Disposal of the BRENT SPAR oil rig • French blood contamination (transfusion & HIV) • BSE • Foot and Mouth disease (UK) • Dioxins in Belgium food • GMOs • Mobile phones • Climate Change
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Measuring is Not Knowing: The Marine Environment and the Precautionary Principle
Context 2
„The enormous number of papers in the marine environment means that huge amounts of data are available, but …we have reached a sort of plateau in …the understanding of what the information is telling us …. We… seem not to be able to do very much about it or with it. This is what led to the precautionary principle, after all – we do not know whether, in our studied ecosystem, a loss of diversity would matter, and it might‟.
Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol 34, No. 9, pp. 680-681, 1997
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Context 3 The Science/Policy Interface is characterised by a shift From „Hard Scientific Facts‟ and „Soft Public Values‟ to „Soft Scientific Facts‟ and „Hard Public Values‟ e.g. Brent Spar, GMOs etc.
Source: David Gee, from „Reporting the Environment, Roles of the EEA and the Media in Shaping Perceptions‟. Reporting the Environment Conference, the Centre of Journalism Studies, University of Wales, Cardiff. 19-21 May 1996

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Context 4 ”Risk policy is thus inescapably bound to seek an objectively appropriate and ethically acceptable pathway in a cloud of uncertainty, gaps in knowledge, ambiguity and indeterminacy... In a way that limits risks and extends opportunities”
Source: “World in transition: Strategies for managing global environmental risks”, German Advisory Council on global change, 1998

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What is the main aim of the “Late Lessons” report?
To help reduce the costs (environmental, health, economic and political) of the hazardous consequences of economic activities (both the unintended and the predictable) by encouraging the use of better information for wiser decision making  Better information for wiser actions

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Other Aims of the “Late Lessons” report
• To integrate knowledge and learn from the past • To know better – (ignorance and uncertainty as sources of knowledge) • To communicate better – (clarification of some Key terms and concepts)

• To help structure interactions between science/knowledge/policy making/public participation

 A Contribution to: „Knowing more‟,

„Knowing better‟ and „Acting more wisely‟

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„Late Lessons‟: What is the approach ?

• •

Learning from history… The past can be the future

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•

„The Future is History‟

•

„Looking backward is not to retreat into the past but to prepare for the future. From medical ethics to management trends, the clues to where we‟re going lie in where we‟ve been.‟
Source: „Wired‟, January, 2002

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Who are the authors ?
Scientists/experts with 15-30 + years experience in the relevant scientific fields • Active participants in the histories of their case studies e.g. Joe Farman (CFCs) Poul Harremoës (MTBE) Peter Infante (Benzene) Michael Gilbertson (Great Lakes) Lars Erik Edqvist (Antibiotics) •

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What are the case studies about ?
• Mainly environment eg. Acidification, Great Lakes, Pollution, CFCs, TBT, Fisheries, MTBE, PCBs Mainly Public and Occupational Health: Benzene, the DES pill, Medical radiation, BSE, Antibiotics in animal food, Beef Hormones, Asbestos (but everything connects…)

•

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„Late Lessons‟ is based on case studies
• • • • Structured around 4 questions: When were the first scientifically based early warnings ? When and what were the main actions, or inactions by society‟s actors ? What were the costs and benefits (all kinds) of the actions/inactions; and What lessons can be drawn that may help improve decisionmaking and reduce overall costs ?

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Antimicrobial Feed Additives (AFA) – Early warnings
1969 – UK Medical Research Council‟s Swann Committee: • „Despite the gaps in our knowledge .. We believe … on the basis of evidence presented to us, that this assessment is a sufficiently sound basis for action .. The cry for more research should not be allowed to hold up our recommendations‟ „Sales/use of AFA should be strictly controlled” via tight criteria, despite not knowing mechanisms of action, nor foreseeing all effects‟ „More rewarding to improve animal husbandry than to feed diets containing AFA‟
Source: (HMSO, UK, Nov. 1969)
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•

•

Case Study - Halocarbons, the ozone layer and the Precautionary Principle
• • The industrial production of the “wonder chemical” CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons) grew immensely up to the 70s. No one ever asked if this growth was sustainable. The 1985 report showing the destruction of ozone over Antarctica was only possible because it was part of a systematic long-term monitoring programme, originally established out of pure scientific curiosity. The results took everyone by surprise. The 1987 Montreal Protocol and subsequent amendments and adjustments on reducing the releases have been hailed as a success. But the initial substitution for HCFC, sub-sequentially also controlled, show that alternatives were not properly assessed. „The Parties to the Protocol always went for consensus before effectiveness‟ (Joe Farman).

• • •

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CFCs, skin cancer and time lags

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Towards A Clarification of Key Terms
Situation State and dates of knowledge Examples of action

Risk

‘Known’ impacts; ‘known’ probabilities e.g. asbestos ‘Known’ impacts; ‘unknown’ probabilities e.g. antibiotics in animal feed and associated human resistance to those antibiotics ‘Unknown’ impacts and therefore ‘unknown’ probabilities e.g. the ‘surprises’ of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and asbestos mesothelioma cancer

Prevention: action taken to reduce known hazards e.g. eliminate exposure to asbestos dust Precautionary prevention: action taken to reduce potential hazards

Uncertainty

Ignorance

Precaution: action taken to anticipate, identify and reduce the impact of ‘surprises’

Source: ‘Late Lessons’, page 192
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Another Key Term DETERMINISM
‘Misplaced certainty about the absence of harm played a key role in delaying preventive actions in most of the case studies’
(Preface, ‘Late lessons from Early Warnings: the Precautionary Principle 1896-2000’)

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Lesson: Long term monitoring; and investigate ‘early warnings’
• With a focus on key uncertainties and background parameters (e.g. persistence and/or bio-accumulation) Often over several decades„ With prompt and targetted research And open to ‘surprises’

• • •

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Lesson: Assess, justify and account for all pros and cons
• Including their distribution; and „secondary‟ benefits and costs • Include effects of innovation and technological change, as well as social impacts of technology choices

• Product prices to include full costs of production, use & disposal (the 'polluter pays principle')
• This maximises efficiency, stimulates innovation and minimises environmental and health burdens

• Precautionary costs should not greatly outweigh the benefits; the proportionality principle
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Lesson: Evaluate alternative means of providing services
• • Avoid Substance ‘monopolies’ that stifle innovation (see Asbestos, CFCs, PCBs) Stimulate available alternatives (antimicrobials, asbestos, radiation, CFCs) (The principle of substitution, now part of

OSPAR’s Strategy on Hazardous Substances requires a comparative assessment of alternative means of providing services; as does the EU Biocides Directive)
• But use precaution, eco-efficiency and diversity with substitutes, too

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Levels of proof some illustrations
Beyond all reasonable doubt reasonable certainty balance of probabilities/evidence

strong possibility
scientific suspicion of risk negligible/insignificant
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Swedish Chemicals Law, 1973
A „Scientifically based suspicion of risk‟ is sufficient for action by the regulator (to restrict a chemical substance)…… which can only be overturned by proof „beyond reasonable doubt‟ from the producer that the substance is „safe‟……

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Definitions of safety
Council Directive 2001/95/EC of 3 December 2001 on general product safety

“‟safe product‟ shall mean any product which, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, including duration and, where applicable, putting into service, installation and maintenance requirements, does not present any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product's use, considered to be acceptable and consistent with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons”
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Definitions of defective products
Council Directive 99/34/EEC on responsibility because of defective products

“A product is defective when it does not provide the safety which a person is entitled to expect…”

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How may we respond to „Ignorance‟ ?
Some possibilities: 1. 2. of Use participative scenarios to help foresee some „unintended consequences.‟ Use a variety of „knowledges‟ (many scientific disciplines as well as „lay‟ and „local‟ knowledge) to help maximise understanding and detect/anticipate some “surprises”. Long-term environmental and health monitoring and better research results dissemination so that evidence the „surprise‟ emerges earlier.

3.

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How may we respond to ignorance ? (cont.II)
4. Use intrinsic parameters as proxies for unknown but possible impacts (e.g. persistence and/or bioaccumulation potential of chemical substances. (See Case Studies on PCBs, MTBE, CFCs, TBT) 5. Promote a diversity of robust and adaptable technological and social options to meet needs (which limits technological „monopolies‟ such as asbestos, CFCs, PCBs etc., and therefore reduces the scale of any „surprise‟). 6. Reduce specific exposures to potentially harmful agents on the basis of credible „Early Warnings‟ of initial harmful impacts (thus limiting the size of any other „surprise‟ impacts from the same agent, e.g. the asbestos cancers that followed asbestosis; and PCB neurotoxicological effects that followed wildlife impacts).
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How may we respond to ignorance ? (cont.III)
7. Reduce general use of energy and materials via radically greater (e.g. 10 times) ecoefficiencies, so as to reduce overall environmental burdens (and thereby limiting the size of future „surprises‟).

8.

Use liability measures (e.g. legal duties and insurance bonds) to compensate for harmful surprises; to increase incentives to avoid future harm; and to provide useful instrument fund if no „surprise‟ occurs.

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‘Wisdom is to know, that you do not know’

Socrates

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Knowledge, not Knowing, and Scientific Competence
Among scientists it is often considered a sign of incompetence to declare uncertainty and ignorance…but It is a sign of competence to deal openly with uncertainty and ignorance

Source: EEA based on Poul Harremoës, DTU

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1. Long term monitoring/research 2. Look for “blind spots” 3. Avoid Interdisciplinary obstacles 4. Avoid Institutional obstacles 5. Accept Real world conditions 6. Scrutinise benefits as well as risks 7. Analyse alternative options 8. Listen to “lay” and local knowledge 9. Take account of stakeholder values 10. Ensure Regulatory and Informational independence 11. Manage Risk, Uncertainty and Ignorance 12. Avoid paralysis by analysis by acting to reduce hazards via the precautionary principle.

Have lessons been learned and applied?
(Not included in „Late Lessons‟)

Yes…

 Science/Public Advisory Commissions in UK and elsewhere, eg on Biotechnology

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Blending Democracy and Expertise in Biotechnology
• „The UK Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) is a new and distinctive kind of independent body. We were set up in June 2000 with a brief to look at current and future developments in biotechnology which have implications for agriculture and the environment, and to advise the Government on their ethical and social implications and their public acceptability‟… • …To consider the wider implications of the lessons to be learnt from individual cases requiring regulatory decision;
Source: „Crops on Trail‟, AEBC report, September 2001
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Have lessons been learned and applied?
Yes:  The Precautionary Principle appears in EU Chemicals White Paper; EU Endocrine disrupting substances strategy and EU Environmental Liability proposals  Mobile Phones, Stewarts Report, UK, 2001  Climate Change: IPPC Process, and Reports, 1999 and 2001

„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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Climate Change, early warnings, late and little actions
e.g. • 1897 Arhenius • 1990 First IPCC report • 1995 Second IPCC report • 1997 Kyoto Protocol • 2001 Third IPCC report 2001 • 2001 Marrakech Agreement • 2002 Sufficient ratification? • 2002 Sufficient implementation (the USA approach) • Sufficient reduction of GHG?
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Have lessons been learned and applied?
No:
 Actions on reducing exposures to Endocrine Disrupting Substances?  …parts of the GM story

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Lessons Learned ?
„…genetic engineers will even be able to predict the environmental consequences of releasing genetically modified crops….. We will understand exactly how a plant will respond in any particular environment…‟
Source: Joe Ecker, „NewScientist‟, 2 December 2000, No. 2267

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Late Lessons learned ?
„For the remarkably well-behaved recombinant DNA technology‟ its purpose is beside the point, whether it is a more elegant rose or to improve the lot of malnourished children‟
H.I. Miller, G. Conko, „Nature Biotechnology vol. 19, April 2001

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What are the main messages for the EEA ?
• Produce more integrated and structured knowledge:
– using the most relevant and reliable data/information – needed to address key policy questions and policy decisions – based on the long-term interests of society.
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What are the main messages for the use of better information in decision making?
• Equal access to information • Transparency of knowledge creation and use • Participation in formulation of research needs and decision making • Develop alternative ways of meeting needs through robust and diverse technologies
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•

for information and the science/policy process (April, 2002) • Proposed workshop on „Reporting

What are the next steps for the EEA on the Precautionary EEA Report on Implications of „Late lessons‟ Principle ?
Complexity: A challenge for the EEA and the Media ?‟ (May, 2002)

• Long-term Environment and Health Monitoring Project • Projects on „early warnings‟ and „research dissemination‟
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”Man has lost the capacity to foresee and forestall....he will end up destroying the earth.”
- Albert Schweitzer

Will this prediction come true ?
or could the precautionary principle help us to foresee and forestall ?

„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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A Historical Annex

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The Need for Comprehensive and Integrated Approaches to Framing, Identifying and Evaluating Environmental and Health Hazards: an early US Recommendation. Conference of Experts, Woods Hole, Mass., USA, August 15-18, 1962 „…it is evident that optimisation of natural resources for human use and welfare cannot be achieved by fragmentary and sporadic attention to isolated parts of the problem, but that the issues involved must be made the subject of a permanent and systematic process of investigation, recording and evaluation, carried on continuously in reference to the total perspective‟…
„The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making‟ Brussels, 16-17 January 2002
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The Need For an Independent Intelligence Agency for Environmental Issues: an early US Recommendation (1962)
Conference of Experts, Woods Hotel, Massachusetts, USA, August 15-18, 1962 „In view of the ever-increasing rate of man-made alterations, with their ever-widening circle of sequelae, an intelligence agency of broad scope would have to cultivate the highest degrees of perceptiveness and sensitivity so as to be able to feel the pulse of the ecosystem, and to register and address incipient developments before they have reached critical dimensions. These diagnoses would then serve as guides for action programs, precautionary measures and the exploration of alternative courses.‟
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Some Tasks of an Independent Environmental Intelligence Agency: some early US Recommendations (1962)
1. „Keep itself constantly informed of physical, biological, sociological, geographic, and economic events and developments of potential bearing on man‟s optimal adjustment to his environment.‟ 2. „To evaluate in scientific terms the probable effect of their mutual interactions on man‟s future – short-range and long-range – in national, regional, and global respects.‟ 3. „Should avail itself of the cooperation of the best talent of the county in the natural sciences and relevant branches of the social sciences.‟
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Some Tasks of an Independent Environmental Intelligence Agency: some early US Recommendations (cont.)
4. „Should determine for any single alteration in the total scene – man-made or beyond man‟s control – the net balance between risk and benefit, not in absolute terms of the intrinsic properties of that particular change, but in relative terms of its putative consequences for the whole fabric of human affairs.‟
„Detect signal gaps and incongruities in the map of existing knowledge in need of filling or reconciling by further research.‟
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5.

Some Tasks of an Independent Environmental Intelligence Agency: some early US Recommendations (cont.)
6. To forestall, counteract or rectify predictable future disruptions and imbalances of the human ecosystem.
7. The contemplated agency should not, however, be given powers of decision or enforcement and it should steer clear of the political arena.
Source: „Renewable Resources‟, A report to the Committee on Natural Resources of the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (NAS-NRC Publication 1000-A, December 1962; LOC Catalogue Card No. 63-60008)
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