The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. In some legal systems such as the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement. There is a considerable amount uncertainty associated with the science of climate change. This uncertainty multiplies when we try to understand the implications of climate change on migration. How important is scientific uncertainty, for any concrete action ?
At the backdrop of an UN report warning 50m environmental refugees by end of decade, Achim Steiner, UN Under-secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP reflects in an article in the Guardian called Climate migration will not wait for scientific certainty on global warming. He says
"Although reviewing science is an integral part of knowledge generation, we should not allow the critique to paralyze emerging science on climate change from reaching society – especially when the lives and livelihoods of considerable numbers of people are at risk."
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