«ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3711 11101 ...»
The same goes for distinguishing research from deployment by the purpose of the activity, notably whether the activity pursues a “commercial” purpose. A non-commercial purpose would not on its own avoid or contain harmful impacts or contain the risk thereof. Depending on scale, this could also be true for potential political tensions. However, a commercial purpose might generally be a useful element amongst others in deciding which activities could be permitted.
Against this background, for governance purposes research could be privileged on the basis of a combination of elements that could seek to reduce or minimise impacts and risks as well as political tension. Useful elements include scale, commercial purpose, and generally whether the activity follows certain procedures and implementing safeguards, e.g. prior impact assessments, transparency of planning, implementation and results.
It has been suggested that governance for research should be addressed separately from governance for deployment. 506 However, this seems problematic from the perspective of institutional economy and political feasibility. A separate governance structure would also require the determination whether an activity qualifies as research or not. It is more plausible to address in general all govern geoengineering activities by a prohibition in principle and on this basis define exceptions or other special governance aspects for research. This also appears House of Commons (2010) 38; Gordon (2010) 32.
Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative, CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS 2 (2010), http://www.srmgi.org/downloads/.
USGAO (2010) 36.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering to be in line with most existing rule systems under international law, which do not usually make a principled distinction between research and deployment regarding the prohibited conduct or impacts, although they do at times define – not unproblematic – exemptions for scientific research. 507 In conclusion, any international governance arrangement should in principle include research and apply from the early stages of field experiments. A completely separate governance regime for research prior or in parallel to a governance arrangement for deployment is not advisable.
Instead, reasons favour of addressing research as part of a general governance arrangement include institutional economy, normative consistency, and that governance of research is likely to pre-determine subsequent governance of “deployment”. Under the LC/LP, research and deployment are de facto also not separate. Research beyond modelling and “indoor” activities should in principle fall under the general prohibition but also be included as a potential exemption under clearly defined conditions. There is no single criterion that can usefully define in abstract and advance what should qualify as an exempt research activity. Instead, for governance purposes a combination of elements should be defined at the international level as guidance for determining exemptions. Useful elements include scale, commercial purpose, and generally whether the activity follows certain procedures and implementing safeguards, e.g.
prior impact assessments, transparency of planning, implementation and results.
This approach strikes an appropriate balance between scientific, environmental and also political concerns and not stifling research. The restrictions on research are very small compared to the concerns and risks that are addressed by this proposal: It needs to be stressed again that the general prohibition would not be absolute: The only restriction research is subjected to is the requirement for obtaining a permit at the national level, to be granted in implementation of and in accordance with clear general criteria agreed at the international level. This provides ample space for taking into account parameters such as the scale of the project, or its expected negligible environmental impacts, do not require burdensome or bureaucratic structures and procedures. The permitting requirement defines default and exception and basically ensures that the policy level (i.e. the permitting authority) is in charge and responsible, which will provide a significant element of legitimacy to permitted research.
The alternative opposite governance scenario, in which certain research activities would be allowed in abstract and in principle unless prohibited, pose risks that outweigh the restriction imposed by a permitting requirement. They pose significantly greater risks of further public polarisation, provide far less certainty to the public as well as problems of monitoring and enforcement.
For instance, as an exemption to the general whaling ban, Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (1946) allows any member state to grant to its nationals a special permit to take whales for research purposes. The proposed permits are submitted to the Scientific Committee which reviews the necessity and proportionality of the research methods. The review takes place in a small specialist workshop with invited experts. The workshop report is circulated to the Scientific Committee and subsequently to the Commission. The ommission can comment on the research permit proposal by passing a resolution but the final decision rests with the member state.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering Table 1: Overview: Objectives and criteria for governance of deployment and research
22.214.171.124 Summary of main governance elements On the basis of the objectives and criteria as well as the analysis above the following
governance elements seem appropriate:
a) A general restriction in principle of geoengineering activities, combined with clear criteria for exemptions seems to best match the objectives and criteria developed above. There are many options for designing a restriction and exemptions in terms of substance and procedure.
b) Research activities beyond modelling and “indoor” activities should in principle fall under the general prohibition but also be included as a potential exemption under clearly defined conditions. For governance purposes a combination of elements should be defined at the international level as guidance for determining exemptions.
c) Not all details need to be set at the international level, nor does the governance framework at the international level necessarily have to be binding. Soft law could be developed further so that if and when the time is ripe, it could be incorporated into binding rules.
d) No closed definition determining normative consequences. A general definition could be combined with a positive list of activities addressed.
e) A clear separation of scientific input and political decision-making.
f) The possibility to include or refer to international scientific and technological assessments.
g) Appropriate structures for reporting and monitoring of national-level decisions and activities.
h) A central institution recognised as a first point of contact. This does not exclude a division of labour with specialised regimes.
i) An institutional structure and procedures with a permanent or at least regular ability to meet, discuss and update existing governance, in order to provide flexibility to respond to new knowledge and political developments.
j) The ability to address potential regime conflicts.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering
6.5 Current governance: analysis and assessment This section provides a multi-dimensional gap analysis from a specific governance angle. We assess for each geoengineering technique the current international legal framework against the governance objectives and criteria developed in section 6.3, as well as against the governance design options developed in section 6.4. This analysis of the existing gaps and weaknesses of the current system provides the basis for developing options for filling the governance gaps in the subsequent section.
6.5.1 Assessment of the existing governance Drawing on the analysis of the existing legal framework in section 5, this section assesses the extent to which the existing international governance for each geoengineering technique corresponds to the objectives and criteria for international governance in section 6.3 and our preliminary choice of main governance options and elements in section 6.4. Against this background, the following questions seem most relevant in order to identify significant
governance gaps that could call for being addressed at the international level:
• To what extent is the particular geoengineering technique addressed by international governance?
• If yes, is the governance in accordance with the preliminary choice of main governance options developed above?
• What is the risk of unilateral action causing ensuing political implications - noting that the risk might change, e.g. in light of technological developments?
• What is the likelihood of serious transboundary (environmental) impacts?
These questions will be addressed for each geoengineering technique.
126.96.36.199 Sulfate aerosols in atmosphere Sulfate aerosols in atmosphere are basically not covered by international governance - apart from the general guidance in the CBD decisions decisions X/33 and the follow-up XI/20 (which are assessed in the next section). The existing rules on protecting the atmosphere, mainly the ozone regime, the LRTAP Convention and the climate regime, do not provide normative guidance regarding sulfate aerosol injection. A different perspective might arise from new insights into the potential effects of sulfate aerosol injection on the ozone layer, but based on current knowledge and estimates such injection would not per se contravene the relevant rules.
Geoengineering via sulfate aerosols is also not addressed by international institutions under these or other regimes (see above section 5).
At the present stage of knowledge this SRM technique appears to have the most potential to be effective, as well as technically and economically feasible. The latter potential also points to the risks of unilateral action and potential political repercussions and their related costs. 508 In addition, SRM techniques such as sulfate aerosol injection could have serious transboundary environmental impacts, including a likely significant geographical redistribution of climatic effects in the case of uniform dimming. 509 While the likelihood of such impacts is difficult to Cf. Macnaghten and Szerszynski 2013.
Cf. Williamson (2012) 44-45 with further references.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering predict, their nature and magnitude appear to be serious enough to raise concern at smaller levels of likelihood. The mere possibility of such impacts are in turn likely to increase the potential for political conflict regardless of whether such impacts occur or, if they do, were actually caused or exacerbated by the injection. The latter point is also of relevance for research with field experiments at relatively small scale.
188.8.131.52 Cloud brightening from ships Cloud brightening from ships is generally covered by the CBD decisions. Apart from this general governance, it is difficult to assess in abstract whether and to what extent cloud brightening would be permitted or prohibited (see section 5). General obligations regarding environmental protection under UNCLOS might apply, but are too general in nature to correspond to our main governance elements. Under the LC/LP, so far there is no discernible attempt by parties LP to interpret it as covering cloud brightening.