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«ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3711 11101 ...»

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Given the current state of research and knowledge about this technique, there does not seem to be much incentive to engage in cloud brightening at this stage. While states would probably be technically be able to pursue this technique unilaterally, the costs and uncertainties involved in doing so in order to make an impact are likely to be strong disincentives at present. If cloud brightening from ships was pursued unilaterally, we would assume medium potential for international political tension, depending on where it would take place and e.g. implications for shipping routes as well as local and regional weather. A large-scale application of this technique is likely to have significant environmental impacts in terms of atmospheric and oceanic perturbations which could affect precipitation and ocean productivity, although there is considerable uncertainty regarding likely negative or positive effects. 510 6.5.1.3 Desert reflectors Desert reflectors are only addressed by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see section 5). Given the current state of research and knowledge about this technique, there does not seem to be much incentive to engage in desert reflectors. Although states with suitable areas would probably technically be able to pursue this technique unilaterally, it would have to be deployed over very large areas to have a significant effect on the global climate. 511 In addition, the potential for international political conflict arising from such activities appears to be small. The same goes for the potential transboundary environmental impact, as impacts are likely to be local or regional, although potentially very high on ecosystems e.g. if vegetation was changed at large scale. 512 6.5.1.4 Installations in outer space SRM techniques in outer space are barely covered by space law, which provides interesting liability concepts, but otherwise its rules are rudimentary and have not been used in practice (see section 5). The potentially applicable rules do not correspond to our main governance elements, as they are far too general to provide guidance regarding which activities would be allowed or not. In addition, there is no suitable institutional structure in place. SRM by space Williamson et al (2012) 51 with further references.

Williamson et al (2012) 52-53.

Williamson et al (2012) 52-53.

Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering installations is addressed only by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see see sections 5.1.2 and 0).

The potential for unilateral action is currently low, given the costs involved and technological requirements and uncertainties. The same goes for field experiments, which are more difficult and costly to conduct in order to generate solid knowledge about feasibility and risks. If it was pursued unilaterally, the potential would be appear to be limited to few states with the necessary technological expertise and financial means, although the possibility of going into space has in recent years become more commercially available. If SRM via space installations was pursued, the potential for political tension and conflict could be even higher than with atmospheric SRM, because activities in outer space might be more difficult to stop, and the technical and financial inability of many states to access outer space might add to that. There would also be potentially large environmental impact, as with stratospheric SRM techniques (see above). 513 6.5.1.5 Carbon capture and storage (CCS) While CCS on land is subject to some existing national and EU rules, it is not addressed by specific international legal rules. In contrast, there are specific and detailed rules under the LC/LP and OSPAR regarding CCS in the ocean’s water column, on or under the seabed. There is a general prohibition of CCS under the LC and a general permission for sub-seabed CCS under the LP, subject tot certain conditions. Sub-seabed CCS is also permissible under OSPAR for those parties to which relevant amendments have entered into force. In addition, the climate regime has opened the CDM to CCS under Kyoto Protocol, where the prospect of obtaining credits could provide an incentive to pursue this technique. The CBD has explicitly excluded CCS from fossil fuels from its definition of geoengineering and thus from its general guidance - although it should be noted that all CDR techniques involve carbon capture and some geoengineering techniques may involve the same or similar processes of managed carbon storage. 514 The impacts and risks of CCS on the environment vary and depend on the technical process in the individual case. Environmental risks include leakage and ground or sea water pollution and acidification, as well as destroying deep seafloor organisms. Other potential risks could arise from infrastructure and transport needs of CCS. There could also be conflicts arising from competitive usages of the underground and its reservoirs (cf. section 5). The potential for unilateral action could be regarded as high, as some states such as Germany and the EU are pursuing CCS and have passed legal frameworks for it. However, commercial application in practice is developing more slowly than expected. 515 6.5.1.6 Ocean liming Ocean liming is not directly addressed under current international law regimes. Although it could fall under provisions restricting “dumping” under several international instruments, it is Williamson et al (2012) 44: “The projected positive and negative impacts that are common to all techniques involving reduction in incoming solar irradiance (as would result from space- or atmospheric-based SRM”.





Williamson et al (2012) 8 and 24.

For the UK see https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/increasing-the-use-of-low-carbon-technologies/supportingpages/carbon-capture-and-storage-ccs; for the US see http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/sequestration/industrial/industrial_ccs.html and http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ccs/index.html.

Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering not clear whether it could qualify as “placement” under these instruments and thus be exempt from the definition of dumping. As a geoengineering technique, ocean liming is currently addressed only by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see sections 5.1.2 and 0).

The potential for unilateral action seems low, given the likely low effectiveness and efficiency at least in the absence of crediting or other incentives. Transboundary impacts would also seem low unless it was applied at large scale. An additional consideration would stem from the positive benefit of offsetting acidification caused by climate change (see section 5).

6.5.1.7 Ocean biomass storage Ocean sequestration of biomass is not directly addressed under current international law.

Similar to ocean liming, some instruments on ocean pollution could apply depending on whether the activity qualifies as “dumping” - at least under the LC/LP, ocean biomass storage could be exempt. The general provisions of UNCLOS on protecting the marine environment also apply (see section 5).

The potential for unilateral action at a level that could cause concern seems currently low, at least in the absence of crediting or other incentives. Transboundary impacts would also seem low unless it was applied at large scale, although impacts are still poorly understood due to limited understanding of deep sea ecosystems (see section 5).

6.5.1.8 Biomass and biochar on land International law does not prohibit the production of biomass, of biochar, or the application of biochar on soil as such, and there does not seem to be pertinent international law on land use or land use change relevant for biomass and biochar. However, the amount of biomass and biochar and the scale of land use changes required to have a significant climate impact could be subject to and confict with rules of international law, e.g. rules on biodiversity, ecosystems and habitats or human rights In addition, it is conceivable to imagine moves towards crediting certain types of LULUCF under the KP’s flexible mechanisms or in future new market-based mechanisms. As a geoengineering technique, ocean liming is currently addressed only by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see sections 5.1.2 and 0) The potential for unilateral action at a level that could cause concern seems currently low, at least in the absence of crediting or other incentives. Transboundary impacts would also seem low unless it was applied at very large scale, although there is a lack of knowledge regarding the environmental impacts of applying biochar on soil. 516 6.5.1.9 Enhanced weathering The existing legal framework for enhanced weathering on land is similar to that applying to biomass and biochar (see above). In absence of specific international law on land use or land use change relevant for enhanced weathering, the rules on the protection of biodiversity, ecosystems and habitats, as well as potentially human rights law, indirectly provide rules regarding areas that could be affected by large-scale land use that would be part of this geoengineering technique. As a geoengineering technique, ocean liming is currently addressed only by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see sections 5.1.2 and 0).

Williamson et al (2012) 57, 65, 66-67.

Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering The potential for unilateral action at a level that could cause concern seems currently low, at least in the absence of crediting or other incentives, and would also appear to entail a low risk of international political tension. Transboundary impacts would also seem low unless it was applied at very large scale.

6.5.1.10 Air capture of CO2 (“artificial trees”) Currently there appear to be no requirements in international law of specific interest for geoengineering by artificial trees. Although air capture installations could generally be regarded as carbon sinks, there is currently no indication of accepting them as sinks under the UNFCCC and KP regime and process. As a geoengineering technique, ocean liming is currently addressed only by the general guidance provided by the CBD decisions (see sections 5.1.2 and 0).

There is virtually no incentive at present for unilateral action that could cause international political tension or conflict. In addition, apart from the problem of storing the CO2 after capture the impact and undesirable consequences on the environment in general and on the environment of other states is arguably very low.

6.5.1.11 Ocean fertilisation Although the terms of reference of this study do not include ocean fertilisation in terms of developing regulatory options, the governance of ocean fertilisation under the LC/LP and CBD provides an important precedent and potential governance model.

In 2008 the LC/LP treaty bodies agreed that the scope of the LC/LP includes ocean fertilisation activities and that ocean fertilisation activities involve “dumping” within the meaning of the LC/LP and are subject to the permitting regime. 517 Although this could be regarded as a collective interpretation by parties of the LC/LP treaty text, 518 there seems to be a common understanding that the resolution is not binding. 519 In 2010, the Parties adopted resolution LCLP.2(2010) on the “Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization”. 520 The LC/LP Assessment Framework is not legally binding in form or in wording, but it guides Parties as to how proposals they receive for ocean fertilisation research should be assessed. It provides criteria for an initial assessment of such proposals and detailed steps for completion of an environmental assessment, including risk management and monitoring.

Ocean fertilisation was also addressed by the United Nations General Assembly 521 and UNESCO’s IOC, without, however, proving additional guidance or governance elements. The CBD has referred to and incorporated this and the LC/LP’s work in its own decisions, which extended the application of the guidance beyond the smaller number of Parties to the London Convention Resolution LC-LP.1 (2008), para. 1. For background and analysis cf. Freestone and Rayfuse (2008), Verlaan (2009), and Ginzky (2010).

Article 31(3) of VCLT, Markus/Ginzky (2011) 480 Fn. 20.

Resolution LC-LP.2 (2010) on the assessment framework for scientific research involving ocean fertilization, adopted on 14 October 2010.

The UNGA merely recalled the outcome of the work by the LC/LP and the CBD, cf. U.N. GA Res. A/RES/62/215, U.N. GA Res. A/RES/63/111, para 115-116, U.N. GA Res. A/RES/64/71, para 132-133, U.N. GA Res. A/RES/65/37, para 149-152 (draft doc. A/65/L.20 adopted).



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