Barrister Josephine Kelly on the “precautionary principle” in the climate debate:
Climate change sceptics lose battle as onus of proof shifts
Julia Gillard’s climate change committee to explore carbon price options reflects the precautionary principle in the climate change debate.
This principle has revolutionised international and Australian environmental science and environmental law. The precautionary principle has driven the international movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it has been ignored in the public debate. It is also the reason that climate sceptics could never win.
In Australia, the climate sceptics have failed. No political party is arguing that the threat does not exist or is negligible. The only argument now, in accordance with the precautionary principle, is determining what preventative measures have to be taken to reduce emissions.
The government supports a carbon price, the opposition supports direct action.
Climate sceptics have lost the battle, which they could never really win, because the precautionary principle reversed the onus of proof. The only real chance the climate sceptics had of winning the debate was to challenge the fundamental principle on which the theory was based, the precautionary principle.
Source: The Australian