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Reimagining Environmental Law 20 August 2020

Environmental Impact Assessment and Management of Environmental Risks

A repository of environmental data and analysis

Tens of thousands of environmental impact assessments are issued every year in compliance with national laws. These assessments are prepared at great expense and contain a wealth of unique observational data and other information. However, they are typically utilized for the subject project and then forgotten. A searchable database should be created of all these documents as a vast repository of environmental data and analysis. It would also help avoid much duplication of effort. 
Professor Michael B Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Predicting environmental impact

Environmental lawyers may have several legal options for a presented problem. They should at the same time have access to the most up-to-date software to predict the environmental impact of each option e.g. on emissions, to allow them to grade the client's options in terms of environmental impact. 
Jonathan Goldsmith 'Consultant in European and international legal services; Law Society Council member'

Improving the predictive model

Environmental impact assessments are in essence predictions of the future--the future consequences of the proposed action for its relevant social-ecological system. How accurate have these predictions been, and how can we improve their predictive power going forward? Using machine learning, past assessments could be evaluated for their accuracy and used to train a predictive model going forward. Impacts of actions, past and future, would continue to be assessed so the predictive model is improved over time. 
Professor J.B. Ruhl, Director, Program on Law and Innovation, Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program, Vanderbilt University Law School

The environment/technology link

Technology regulation is designed to protect public and private interests by imposing restrictions, operating standards, and information requirements. Technology is being implicated in environmental harms, directly (e.g. pesticide damage, enabling monocultures and overuse of resources); and indirectly (e.g. facilitating harmful business models, waste streams, and microscopic pollution). It is also harnessed to control harms, directly (e.g. contaminant removal, evidence gathering and monitoring) and indirectly (improved communications and social action). As the systemic environment/technology link becomes stronger and environmentalists and regulators become aware of this they will make positive systemic regulatory changes (e.g. by making indirect risk assessable or imposing environmental harm monitoring and management an approval requirement).
Professor Paul Martin, Director, Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law, University of New England

Green courts and tribunals

In the Anthropocene, we will need to deal with the unpredictable risks of our troubled times. AI and Big data can play an important role in framing the contours of the legislative, political but also of the judicial choices, as the experiences of many specialized green courts and tribunals all around the world tells us. 
Professor Domenico Amirante, Director, PhD Programme in Comparative Law and Processes of Integration, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli

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