Legal responsibility for climatic change's natural risks: Applicability of prevention principle in the subtropical region of Argentina
|Location||International Geological Congress,oslo 2008|
|Holding Date||18 August 2008|
Legal responsibility for climatic change's natural risks: Applicability of prevention principle in the subtropical region of Argentina۱:place>۱:country-region>
Sayago, Florencia; Sayago, José۱:placename> Manuel۱:placename>
The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", in article ۳.۱. of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change establish that "the Parties should protect the climate system" ..., "on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities...". Even though Chapter ۴ contains several commitments that all Parties must implement, the truth is that the measures adopted are strongly conditioned by each government's discretionary power. Nevertheless, we understand that administrative discretion is limited by the "prevention principle" (art. ۴° of Argentinean General Environmental Law). In regard to Climatic Change, "prevention principle" obliges public authorities to act with "due diligence", adopting measures to mitigate and facilitate adaptation to climate change, in accordance with available scientific knowledge. From other side, the "prevention principle" application is limited by the incertitude in climatic change effects prediction. According to reliable models (Allen & Ingram, ۲۰۰۲) in Argentina۱:country-region> rainfall would increase (۲۵%) in the Pampa۱:city> and Chaco plains and decrease (۳۰%) in pre-andean regions and Patagonia۱:place>. Thus in the Pampas processes like flooding, flush flood, mass movement and ground water rise would affect rural and urban areas while in the arid scenario dryness, water shortage and soil salinizaton would influence in landscape geodynamic and population disruption. From a legal perspective, the impossibility to predict with absolute certainty is an obstacle to determinate the responsibility of local authorities for the damages caused by natural catastrophes. Still, it is necessary to determinate a minimum content of affirmative obligations that authorities are force to fulfill, even in case of lack of full scientific certainty about effects at a regional level ("precautionary principle"). In the present paper we propose: ۱. Local authorities have administrative responsibility to take in account temporal and spatial dimensions of Climatic Change. ۲. Available scientific predictions on the effects of Climatic Change for Argentina Northwestern Region restrict administrative discretion in respect of precautionary measures to be taken. The provincial authorities should consider, at least, two lines of action for the next decades: one for a humid scenario, and another for a dryer one. ۳. It is technically possible to enact legal framework that enumerates specific economic, social, technical, and environmental measures of mitigation and adaptation to Climatic Change that local Governments must develop and apply. This regulation should take in consideration: a) regional perspective of Climatic Change; b) the changes of future climate based on the study of past climates; and c) the possibility of extreme climatic events.