What is it about?

The polluter pays principle (PPP) was to be used for settling the economic aspects of environmental disputes. It intended to discourage pollution by adding the cost of pollution prevention measures to the cost of products and services that cause pollution during their manufacture, consumption, or operation. A 2020 Climate Law paper discusses the PPP with regards to local climate change governance in India, China, and the USA. While PPP has been an important recommendation, it has not been widely implemented in the local jurisdiction of these countries. In India and China, this is likely due to cultural differences and norms; in the USA, it is likely due to the fractionalisation of the judicial system. A history of oppression by Westerners has jaded the world view of India and China. These countries oppose internationally binding greenhouse gas emission limitations because they view them as a move by the West, aimed at curbing their economic development. Hence, local governments in these countries do not often consider the PPP. Meanwhile, environmental statutes of the USA do not include the PPP, and the country has a fragmented, law-making process. Hence, independent local jurisdictions may not always consider the PPP during their proceedings.

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Why is it important?

The USA, India, and China are the world’s largest economies today. Development in these countries has traditionally gone hand-in-hand with climate change (which is evident by their increasing contribution to global emissions) and continues to do so. Climate change law needs to strike a fine balance in these tricky economies—one that allows them to develop at an environmentally acceptable pace. This paper gives an insight into the challenges that undermine environmental limitations in these respective countries. Taking into consideration these insights might help the development of individualistic climate change laws. KEY TAKEAWAY Cultural and jurisdictional norms prevent the application of the PPP in India, China, and the USA. Understanding the nuances of these aspects as they vary across different countries could facilitate the implementation of climate change laws by local authorities.

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This page is a summary of: The Polluter Pays Principle as an Instrument of Municipal and Global Environmental Governance in Climate Change Mitigation Law: Lessons from China, India, and the United States, Climate Law, March 2020, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/18786561-01001003.
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