This paper examines two important themes of EU environmental law: the preoccupation with the generation of detailed environmental information and knowledge; and an emphasis on participatory modes of decision-making. Exploring a number of areas of EU environmental law, this paper details the processes for gathering information on ‘facts’ about the world, and for enabling more or less ‘public’ participation in decision-making. It highlights the legitimacy challenges raised by the limits of expertise as a decision-making resource, and by the advantages of industry in shaping that expertise. There are no simple solutions to the challenges raised, but ensuring transparency and inclusion, an opportunity for scrutiny and for hearing different and dissenting voices, are important responses. Decision-makers also need to become more adept at articulating the reasons for a decision that are not to be found in expert advice.
From Improvement Towards Enhancement: A Regenesis of EU Environmental Law at the Dawn of the Anthropocene
This chapter discusses a host of what mostly are still isolated ad hoc technology-driven initiatives, usually in support of human (rights) imperatives, which effectively endeavour to engineer and re-engineer living and non-living environments in ways that have no natural, legal, or historical precedent. The umbrella term I propose to capture such initiatives is ‘environmental enhancement’. Potential examples that fit this definition include genetic modification of disease-transmitting mosquitoes to protect human health, solar radiation-management initiatives and other forms of climate engineering to sustain human life on earth, the creation of new life forms to secure food supplies and absorb population growth, and de-extinction efforts that help restore the integrity of ecosystems. The question this paper asks, in the words of Brownsword, is whether conventional environmental law ‘connects’ with environmental enhancement, focusing on EU environmental law, and whether states may be duty-bound to enhance environments in pursuit of human rights imperatives.