Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 14602021
Project Title(English) : Environmental Impact Assessments as a Tool for Climate Change Mitigation: Global Comparative Perspectives 
Project Title(Chinese) : 環境影響評估的工具減緩氣候變化:全球視角的比較 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof MAYER, Benoit Pierre Marie 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : NA 
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2021 / 22
Fund Approved : 338,872
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 30-6-2024
Abstract as per original application
This project explores how climate change mitigation is integrated in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) procedures conducted around the world in order to identify issues and potential solutions. EIA seeks to ensure that the administrative decisions approving projects likely to affect the environment are well informed. While EIAs typically focus on local environmental impacts, they have increasingly been viewed as an opportunity for considering climate change mitigation in decisions on greenhouse-gas-intensive projects. In various jurisdictions (e.g. Canada, EU Member States, USA, Australia and South Africa), new precedents, statutes, regulations and technical guidance have led to the integration of climate change mitigation in certain EIA procedures. Yet, these debates, arising in a distinct national context, almost systematically unfold in isolation from developments taking place elsewhere. The premise of this research project is that much could be gained if each of these national debates could be informed by developments in other jurisdictions. In particular, his project could inform forthcoming developments in China (where authorities have alluded to the need to integrate climate change mitigation in EIA, but haven't adopted a systematic approach) and in Hong Kong (where such developments are yet to take place). The integration of climate change mitigation in EIA procedures raises five critical questions: 1. Defining the impacts of a project on climate change: a project can impact the climate system in indirect ways, for instance when fossil fuels are produced for off-site combustion, and debates have taken place on what emissions are to be documented as part of a project’s EIA. 2. Assessing significance: the impact of some projects on climate change have been discarded as an “insignificant” contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, but alternative approaches are being developed to assess significance in context. 3. Organising deliberations: the deliberative process, central to the EIA procedure, may need to take particular forms in the absence of specifically “affected populations”. 4. Relation with other measures on climate change mitigation: EIA as a tool for climate change mitigation may appear redundant with other measures on climate change mitigation, in particular cap-and-trade mechanisms, but in many ways it appears rather complementary. 5. Ensuring effective influence on projects: EIA might be a purely formalist requirement if decision-makers favour local economic activity over global environmental protection. The project documents how various jurisdictions have approached these issues and draws lessons that could inform further developments. Thus, it seeks to promote more effective ways to integrated climate change mitigation in EIA procedures.
本項目探究了如何將減緩氣候變化納入到在世界範圍內實行的環境影響評估(環評)程序,以確定問題和可能的解決辦法。 環評旨在確保那些批准可能影響環境的項目的行政決定對其影響是充分知情的。雖然環評通常關注當地的環境影響,但它們越來越被視為在溫室氣體密集型項目決策中考慮減緩氣候變化的機會。在不同的司法管轄區(如加拿大、歐盟成員國、美國、澳大利亞和南非),新的判例、法規、條例和技術指南都已經將減緩氣候變化納入特定的環評程序中。然而,這些在獨特的國家背景下產生的爭論幾乎是系統地脫離其他地方的事態發展而展開的。本研究項目的前提是,如果這些國家的爭論可以從其他司法管轄區的發展中獲得信息,那麼就會有很多收穫。特別是,本項目可以為中國(當局已暗示將減緩氣候變化納入環評,但尚未採取系統的方法)和香港(尚未開展此類發展)未來的發展提供信息。 將減緩氣候變化納入環評程序提出了五個關鍵性問題: 1. 定義項目對氣候變化的影響:項目可以間接影響氣候系統,例如,當化石燃料生產用於場外燃燒時,會產生關於項目的環境影響評估應記錄何種排放的爭論。 2. 評估重要性:一些項目對氣候變化的影響因對全球溫室氣體的排放只有“微不足道”的貢獻而被廢棄,但是正在發展其他方法來評估重要性。 3. 組織審議:在沒有具體“受影響人群”的情況下,作為環評程序核心的審議過程可能需要採取特定形式。 4. 與減緩氣候變化的其他措施的關係:環評作為減緩氣候變化的工具,與減緩氣候變化的其他措施,特別是與總量管制和交易制度相比,可能顯得多餘,但在許多方面又相當互補。 5. 確保對項目的有效影響:如果決策者更傾向於地方經濟活動而非全球環境保護,那麼環評可能只是一種純粹的形式主義的要求。 本項目記錄了不同司法管轄區如何處理這些問題,並從中汲取經驗教訓,為進一步的發展提供信息。因此,它試圖促進將減緩氣候變化納入環評程序中的更有效的方式。
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