«ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3711 11101 ...»
Bodle (2010); Sugiyama (2010).
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering parties to “consider” its “guidance”. These are weak formulations using the usual codes used for decision language. 99 The decision provides a tentative definition by way of a footnote, with key elements being “deliberate” and “large-scale”. 100 The definition explicitly excludes CCS. The wording is quite lengthy compared to the revised definition by the subsequent expert study for CBD SBSTTA on the impacts of geoengineering 101 (see above section 4).
The core of the operative part of paragraph 8(w) is the guidance that no climate-related geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity take place. It is difficult to imagine geoengineering activities that reach a scale sufficiently large to fulfil the definition, but do not have any effect on biodiversity. The decision thus covers all geoengineering techniques currently discussed.
Although the language and grammar are not entirely clear, the intended restriction of geoengineering appears to be subject to three provisos: 102
• First, the operative part as a whole is worded as a transitional measure intended to apply “in the absence of science based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geoengineering”;
• Second, the restriction is to apply “until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify” geoengineering activities, which includes a comprehensive risk assessment;
• Third, it exempts small-scale scientific research studies, provided that they are conducted in a controlled setting, justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment.
With regards to implementation, it appears to be subject to the determination of each Party whether the conditions for the second and third proviso are met. 103 The CBD geoengineering decision does not establish an international procedure or institution for this. In terms of substance, the decision elsewhere refers to the LC/LP’s Assessment Framework for ocean fertilisation, but it does not extend this reference to geoengineering in general.
Bodle (2010) 314.
“Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geoengineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. It is noted that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon content of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere.” Williamson et al (2012) 8. On the wording of the Geoengineering decision see Bodle (2010) 315-316.
Bodle (2013) 463.
Bodle et al (2012) 124.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering In accordance with the mandate in decision X/33, the CBD Secretariat commissioned two reports, one on the impacts of geoengineering and one on gaps in the international regulatory framework. 104 The subsequent COP decision XI/20 of 2012 takes note of these studies but does not add normative content over and above decision X/33. It might be regarded as a step backwards in terms of clarity, as it mentions several definitions. 105 However, it makes small steps towards providing elements of a governance framework (see assessment in section 6 below).
5.1.3 Stratospheric aerosol injection The geoengineering technique of injecting of aerosols into the stratosphere aims at increasing the planetary albedo and thereby reduce the incoming solar radiation. A wide range of types of particles, which are considered as suitable for this purpose, is being discussed in scientific literature. 106 The focus of discussions has, however, been on the use of sulphate aerosols. 107 In this case, hydrogen sulphide (H2S) or sulphur dioxide (SO2) would be introduced into the stratosphere as gases, where they are expected to oxidize into sulphate particles. 108 To deliver the chemicals to the stratosphere, a fleet of aircraft was suggested as most effective. 109 188.8.131.52 LRTAP Convention The LRTAP Convention aims at the protection of humans and the human environment against air pollution. It obliges its parties to make an effort to limit, reduce and prevent air pollution, including long-range transboundary air pollution. 110 The injection of aerosols into the stratosphere, especially of H2S and SO2, would fall under the scope of this convention to the extent that it satisfies the LRTAP Convention’s definition of air pollution and long-range transboundary air pollution.
The LRTAP Convention is a regional convention; its geographical scope is limited to the UNECE region. As of March 2011, the LRTAP Convention had 51 contracting parties, 111 covering virtually the entire area of the UNECE region in North America and Europe. 112 In the remaining three countries in the Central Asian part of the UNECE region, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, efforts which could lead to accession to the Convention are Williamson et al (2012); Bodle et al (2012).
CBD Decision XI/20, para 5.
Williamson et al (2012) 26 and 49 with further references.
See for example GAO (2011) 33.
Royal Society (2009) 29.
Royal Society (2009) 32; See also Rasch et al (2008) 4015 and GAO (2011) 33-34.
LRTAP Convention, Article 2.
See UNECE web site, Status of Ratification, http://www.unece.org/env/lrtap/status/Status%20of%20the%20Convention.pdf (30 March 2012).
For a map of the UNECE region see UNECE web site, http://www.unece.org/oes/nutshell/ecemap.html (30 March 2012).
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering reported, but so far they have not become parties. 113 The LRTAP Convention functions mainly as a framework for cooperation and development of further, more specific obligations for the implementation of the Convention. 114 The Executive Body, established by Article 10 of the LRTAP Convention, comprises all contracting parties as members and serves as the highest decision-making body of the LRTAP Convention. In its annual sessions, the Executive Body adopted 8 protocols, which govern specific pollutants or issues. 115 All of these Protocols entered into force, even though their number of parties varies significantly. Only those three Protocols, which address SO2 emissions and are therefore directly relevant to the injection of SO2 into the stratosphere, will be discussed below.
Some of the provisions of the LRTAP Convention refer to “air pollution” generally, others to “air pollution including long-range transboundary air pollution”, or to “long-range transboundary air pollution”. The latter is defined by Article 1 (b) of the LRTAP Convention as air pollution, the physical origin of which “is situated wholly or in part within the area under the national jurisdiction of one State and which has adverse effects in the area under the jurisdiction of another State”. Notably, such effects are defined as occurring “at such a distance that it is not generally possible to distinguish the contribution of individual emission sources or groups of sources.” 116 The LRTAP Convention therefore covers emissions with negative effects occurring on the territory of states other than the emitting state, the cause of which cannot be explicitly determined. Thereby, the definition in Article 1 (b) of the LRTAP Convention addresses the problem that it is in many cases difficult to establish a causal link between emissions in one country and effects of these emissions in another, which could also likely be the case for the injection of aerosols into the stratosphere.
“Air pollution” is defined by the LRTAP Convention as “the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the air resulting in deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems and material property and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment.” 117 This
definition contains three elements, all of which have to be fulfilled to constitute air pollution:
• a pollutant (substances or energy introduced in the air)
• a specific actor (by man) and
• to prove causality (resulting in deleterious effects). 118 The introduction of H2S and SO2 into the stratosphere as a geoengineering measure would meet the first two requirements. 119 The third, causality, which is also required for the LRTAP UNECE (2007) 13. As of 15 November 2011, they still had not become parties to the LRTAP Convention, see UNECE Website, Status of ratification of the 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, www.unece.org/env/lrtap/status/lrtap_st.html.
Beyerlin/Marauhn (2011) 150.
Despite the fact that the LRTAP Convention does not provide the Executive Body with an explicit mandate to adopt new protocols, cf. Beyerlin (2000) 156.
LRTAP Convention, Article 1 (b).
LRTAP Convention, Article 1(a).
See also Larsson (1999) 139, for a broader overview and discussion of definitions of “pollution”.
For the same assessment see Zedalis (2010) 21.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering Convention to apply, 120 is more difficult to determine. In the case at hand, the introduction of H2S and SO2 into the stratosphere would have to actually have resulted in deleterious effects. 121 Situations in which the introduction of H2S and SO2 may have or are likely to have deleterious impacts on the environment are therefore not sufficient; 122 “harmless” substances are explicitly excuded. 123 Article 4 of the LRTAP Convention is an exception proving this rule. 124 It establishes the specific obligation to “exchange information on and review their policies, scientific activities and technical measures” regarding the discharge of air pollutants which may have adverse effects. It is notable that “air pollution” according to Article 1 (a) has to result in “deleterious effects” while long-range transboundary air pollution requires “adverse effects”. It is not clear whether this choice of terms implies a difference in the intensity of negative effects required.
Article 1 (a) of the LRTAP Convention defines “deleterious effects” with a broad scope. It includes a range of negative effects, including harm of living resources and ecosystems and material property and interference with other legitimate uses of the environment. 125 The mere possibility of such effects does not appear sufficient to fulfil the definition; their existence hast to be actually proven. 126 The introduction of H2S and SO2 into the stratosphere at a scale, which could theoretically counteract either all or most of the radiative forcing from greenhouse gases at the global scale, 127 could harm living resources and ecosystems to some degree, as it would lead to an increase in acidity of precipitation (‘acid rain’). 128 Scientific studies suggest, however, that the size of this effect is considered to be small. 129 The decrease in photosynthetically active radiation and increase in the amount of diffuse (as opposed to direct) short-wave solar irradiation, caused by an increase of stratospheric aerosols, will have opposing ecological effects. The net impact is likely to differ between species and between ecosystems. 130 So far, such effects are not well enough understood to allow for a combined analysis of all effects.
Marine photosynthesis, for example, may decrease 131 and negatively impact marine biodiversity. Effects on crops could interfere with food production and constitute an “interference with other legitimate uses of the environment”. Some studies, however, predict, depending on the crop species, positive impacts on crops. 132 In determining “deleterious effects”, it could be asked whether in the case of geoengineering the negative effects of an introduction of H2S and SO2 into the stratosphere need to be weighed Described by Larsson (1999) 139 as “the most difficult issue in air pollution”: “the possibility of demonstrating the source and proving causality”.