This book discusses six major principles of relevance to environmental issues and uses them to evaluate a set of environmental policies. The principles chosen include three that are specific to environmental matters – ecological sustainability, the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle – and three more that have wider social application – equity, human rights and public participation. While these six principles are by no means comprehensive, and different scholars, policy analysts and environmental groups have recommended others as also relevant to environmental policies, they were selected because they were developed over the past half century and have the broadest acceptance around the world. Each has, to varying degrees, been incorporated into international treaties and national law.
While these six principles can and should be used to evaluate all environmental policies, this book focuses on one set of policies. This set of policies forms the new wave of economic instruments and market-oriented environmental policies that seek to utilise economic incentives and market forces in protecting the environment. These economics-based policies are being progressively applied at the national and international level, and have been embraced by business, government and many environmental groups.
The following brief historical context should be useful in better understanding the political significance of the principles and environmental policies around which this book has been written.