skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: SEA screening of voluntary climate change plans: A story of non-compliant discretion

Screening within Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the first critical stage involving considerations on whether an assessment is carried out or not. Although legislation and guidance offer practitioners a legal and logical approach to the screening process, it is inevitable that discretionary judgement takes place and will impact on the screening decision. This article examines the results of discretion involved in screening of climate change plans (CCPs) in a Danish context. These years voluntary CCPs are developed as a response to the global and local emergence of both mitigation and adaptation, and the voluntary commitment by the local authorities is an indication of an emerging norm of climate change as an important issue. This article takes its point of departure in the observation that SEA is not undertaken for these voluntary CCPs. The critical analysis of this phenomenon rests upon a documentary study of Danish CCPs, interviews with a lawyer and ministerial key person and informal discussions between researchers, practitioners and lawyers on whether climate change plans are covered by SEA legislation and underlying reasons for the present practice. Based on a critical analysis of mandatory SEA and/or obligation to screen CCPs according to significance criteria, the authors find thatmore » 18 out of the 48 CCPs are mandatory to SEA and 9 would require a screening of significance and thereby potentially be followed by a SEA. In practice only one plan was screened and one was environmentally assessed. The legal, democratic and environmental consequences of this SEA practice are critically discussed. Hereunder is the missed opportunity to use the broad environmental scope of SEA to avoid a narrow focus on energy and CO{sub 2} in CCPs, and the question whether this practice in Denmark complies with the EU Directive. -- Highlights: ► It is inevitable that discretionary judgement takes place and will impact on the screening decision. ► The article hereby calls for greater awareness of the discretion and judgement involved in SEA screening. ► Practice seemingly reveals a lack of application of SEA within climate change planning and a lack of explicit screening. ► Absence of SEAs of voluntary plans such as CCPs, have legal consequences, as well as democratic and environmental consequences. ► The vague definition of ‘administrative provision’ seems to impose the lacking SEA.« less
Authors:
;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22246887
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 41; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CARBON DIOXIDE; CLIMATIC CHANGE; COMPLIANCE; DENMARK; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY; LEGAL ASPECTS; LEGISLATION; MITIGATION; SEAS; WATER POLLUTION; WATER POLLUTION CONTROL