The REMEDE Project: A useful framework for assessing non-market damages from oil spills?
As vessel traffic in the Baltic increases, in particular oil transports from Russia to the international market, so too does the risk of oil spills which above the environmental impacts impose costs on society including direct costs, market costs and non-market costs (e.g., losses in welfare from a damaged environment not easily valued in a market). While financial compensation addresses direct and market costs, environmental compensation (compensatory restoration) offsets welfare declines from the loss of resources or the services they provide. Although a clear international system for recovering environmental restoration costs from oil spills is still un-established, the EU's Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) from 2007 introduces a number of useful terms and concepts that may be applicable in the Baltic context. The European Commission (EC) funded development of the REMEDE Toolkit to help Member States carry out the ELD requirements. The Toolkit provides a useful framework for assessing non-market costs associated with oil spill damages by defining the types of ecological losses suffered by the public and providing interdisciplinary methods for scaling resource-based compensation projects whose cost should be incurred by the responsible polluter(s). This paper suggests that the ELD concepts and REMEDE methods could be transferred to the Baltic to help authorities recover environmental restoration costs from responsible polluters. We illustrate application of REMEDE-like concepts and methods to oil spill damages in the context of US regulations and the UN Compensation Commission and discuss the legal acceptance of these methods. The fact that the ELD cannot legally be invoked to address an oil spill in Europe should not preclude a discussion about how these relatively new European legal concepts, including the REMEDE methodology, could be used to establish a more consistent, transparent, and replicable framework for damage assessment in the sensitive marine environment of the Baltic Sea.
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