«ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3711 11101 ...»
UN General Assembly The UN General Assembly has addressed geoengineering but so far it merely reiterated work under the LC/LP and the CBD. 587 On paper, the UNGA has high political legitimacy, which might be the added value provided by reiterating the work under the CBD and LC/LP. A simple majority is generally sufficient to adopt resolutions, which could be an advantage compared to the largely consensus-based procedures under the other relevant treaty regimes. On this basis the UNGA could define main governance pillars, e.g. a clear mandate for CBD to provide overarching guidance. However, resolutions adopted against some states risk dividing the international community on this issue.
Generally, the UNGA does not seem fit for governance of a science-driven issue: The UNGA has many issues to deal with and is over-politicised. Previous examples of the UNGA more or less successfully engaging in specific governance are quite long ago, for instance the normative work in space law and the New International Economic Order, which however were not science-driven and not successful in providing institutional structures for follow-up.
UNCLOS and IMO The UNCLOS regime has potential normative value, but does not have a institutional setup with permanent bodies and regular meetings similar to a COP under other regimes. Instead, UNCLOS delegates implementation to the competent international organisations such as IMO, Cf. the 1985 Montreal Guidelines for the Protection of the Marine Environment Against Pollution from Landbased Sources, UNEP/WG.120/3-; the 1989 London guidelines for exchange of information on chemicals in international trade, UNEP GC Decision 15/30 of 25 May 1989; the 1987 Cairo Guidelines and Principles for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Wastes, UNEP GC Decision 14/30 of 17 June 1987.
See UN GA Res. 62/215, para. 97–98, 14 March 2008; Res. 63/111, paras. 115–116, 12 February 2009; Res. 64/71, paras. 132–133, 12 March 2010; Res. 65/37, para. 149, 17 March 2011 Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering or general diplomatic conference, and is without prejudice to specialised regimes such as LC/LP. The main normative and regulatory work regarding ocean fertilisation has been carried out by the specialised regime of LC/LP. In addition, UNCLOS is limited to marine issues and it would be difficult to see SRM governance being anchored under it. The same goes for IMO, which has considerable normative experience, albeit with a more technical focus. Both UNCLOS and IMO are unsuitable candidates for overarching geoengineering governance.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is one of the four UN institutions working on geoengineering. 588 Established in 1960, its mandate is to promote international cooperation in marine research and to further develop ocean governance.
Increasing the understanding of the ocean’s role in climate mitigation and adaptation is currently listed as one of the IOC’s high-level objectives. 589 With the exception of a short policy brief on geoengineering in general, 590 the IOC has so far mainly considered the implications and regulation of ocean fertilisation, stressing the importance of the precautionary principle. 591 Following the ocean fertilisation experiment by a private actor off the Canadian coast in 2012, it issued a statement that only legitimate research in accordance with the LC/LP should be allowed. 592 Generally the IOC is a scientific body that in respect of governance has mainly referred to the LC/LP’s work. Its mandate is limited to marine issues and its future direction in respect of geoengineering is unclear. It deferred consideration of the legal aspects of ocean fertilisation since the future of the responsible body, the IOC Advisory Body of Experts on the Law of the Sea (IOC/ABE-LOS), was still to be decided. 593 While in 2012, the Executive Council decided that the body will continue its work, no decision was taken on the consideration of the issue. 594 Due to its unclear and in any event limited mandate, and lack of political weight, IOC is not s suitable forum for to perform overarching governance functions.
Next to CBD, LC/LP and UNCLOS.
IOC Resolution EC-XXXIX, IOC DRAFT MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY (2008–2013), Thirty-ninth Session of the Executive Council,Paris, 21–28 June 2006.
Based on a workshop in November 2010 organised by the IOC and other UNESCO divisions, UNESCO-SCOPE-UNEP (2011): Engineering the climate. Research questions and policy implications. UNESCO-SCOPE-UNEP Policy Briefs Series. November 2011.
591 th rd th Wallace et al (2010).; IOC 25 Assembly 2009, IOC 43 Executive Council in 2010, IOC 26 Assembly in 2011.
Statement by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO regarding Ocean Fertilization,
UNESCO, 19 October 2012. Online available:
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/SC/pdf/IOC_statement_Ocean_fertilization.pdf IOC, Report of the Twenty-sixth Session of the Assembly Paris, 21 June–5 July 2011, UNESCO, IOC-XXVI/3. Para.
IOC Executive Council, Decision EC-XLV/Dec.4.3, Review of the IOC Advisory Body of Experts on the Law of the Sea (IOC/ABE-LOS). Forty-fifth Session of the Executive Council Paris, 26–28 June 2012.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering IPCC The IPCC is a body for scientific assessment and currently working on geoengineering for its forthcoming fifth Assessment Report (AR5). 595 Besides the potential effects of geoengineering, the mandate includes the possible role, options, risks, and status of geoengineering as a response option. The IPCC’s scientific input is likely to be influential in the international policy debate and negotiations, and its institutional setup could be a model for providing science input for geoengineering where there is a lack of such input. However, the mandate, institutional setup and procedures are geared towards generating a basis for subsequent policy decisions rather than making them. The IPCC is unsuitable for providing governance in a normative, regulatory or political sense.
LC/LP and OSPAR Although in terms of content the work under the LC/LP is elaborate and corresponds to many of our proposed main governance elements, the regime is too limited in spatial and material scope to provide overarching governance functions for geoengineering. Participation in the London Convention and London Protocol is also not comparable to the CBD or the UNFCCC, for instance, in terms of number of Parties. The same reasons apply to OSPAR. However, LC/LP might serve as a specialised regime within the geoengineering regime complex, and perhaps spearhead governance models in the marine sector (see section 6.6.2).
WMO WMO mandate is to promote international cooperation in weather, climate, hydrology and water resources and related environmental issues. 596 It has experience relevant to geoengineering through its long-standing work on weather modification. WMO has been undertaking research on weather modification since the 1950s and specifically aims at encouraging research projects. 597 In 2006, it established an Expert Team on Weather Modification Research (ET-WRM) to promote scientific practices in weather modification research. The ET-WRM meets annually and observes relevant research and reviews regularly the WMO Statement on Weather Modification and the WMO Guidelines for the Planning of Weather Modification. 598 Additionally, every four years a scientific conference on weather modification is organised. 599 The WMO also holds a registry of weather modification activities.
IPCC, “Scope, Content and Process for the Preparation of the Synthesis Report (SYR) of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)”, IPCC-XXXII/Doc. 4 (2010), at 3, available at http://www.ipcc.ch/ meetings/session32/syr_final_scoping_document.pdf. Previous IPCC reports briefly mentioned geoengineering, see Williamson et al (2012) 21 fn 15.
1947 Convention of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO Convention) WMO Weather Modification Statement and Guidelines (last updated at ET meeting March 2010), para1.1, www.wmo.int.
WMO Weather Modification Statement and Guidelines (last updated at ET meeting March 2010).
At its 2011 meeting, the ET-WRM notes serious funding problems and welcomed a proposel by UAE to establish an International Center for Weather Modification Research which would inter alia sponsor the ET-WRM meeting and the quadrennial scientific conferences.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering However, in 2011 only eight countries had responded to the questionnaires sent out for the 2008-2010 period. 600 The WMO activities amount to basic elements of international governance regarding weather modification, coming from within a science organisation: regular assessment of current scientific knowledge guidelines on research, guidelines on how to conduct research. These basic elements could be relevant input for SRM, in particular aerosol injection, which is conceptually similar to common weather modification techniques.
However, the WMO notes that although weather modification is still an emerging technology, since the 1980s there has been a decline in support for weather modification research, and a tendency to move directly into operational projects. 601 More generally, the weather modification statement and guidelines are quite general and in their current form unlikely to be a suitable model for SRM.
While there are tentative beginnings of considering geoengineering as part of weather modification, the future direction of WMO is not clear. The WMO Congress, the supreme governing body of WMO, mandated ET-WRM to consider geoengineering in its work. 602 In turn, ET-WRM encouraged the WMO to state a position on geoengineering, but also noted that geoengineering in its totality was not part of the mandate of the ET-WRM and should not be part of the Weather Modification Statement. 603 However, the ET-WRM group is too small and scientifically specialised to address the broader political and governance questions regarding geoengineering in general or SRM in particular. The WMO in general, while being an option for providing scientific input, does not have the political weight and regulatory experience that are likely to be required for performing overarching governance functions regarding atmospheric SRM or geoengineering in general.
A new institution Overarching governance functions could also be performed by a new institution that is especially designed for this purpose. However, there is no blueprint for an ideal international institution and setting up a new institution from scratch always involves a degree of unpredictability. Although existing governance frameworks might provide ideas on how particular functions could be designed by geoengineering governance, even partial analogues might be misleading. Structures and elements that function well for other institutions and settings might not work in a new framework and for the functions to be performed.
A key consideration in this option is assessing the likelihood that states would agree on a new institution in this field. Setting up a new institution with functions at the international level is usually a major political effort requiring political buy-in. What reasons would make it attractive Meeting of the CAS Expert team on Weather Modification Research (ET-WMR) Report, 7 October 2011, Bali.
Online available: http://saive.com/WXMOD/2011_MEETING_OF_THE_CAS_EXPERT_TEAM_ON_WEATHER.pdf WMO Weather Modification Statement and Guidelines (last updated at ET meeting March 2010), para1.3.
WMO Congress 2011, Report, para 2.5.38, WMO Doc 1077, Document Cg-XVI/Doc. 3.3, REV. 1, APPENDIX A, 127.
The ET-WRM also consideres preparing a paper on “Lessons Learned In Weather Modification Relevant to the Climate Change Geo-Engineering Debate”, Meeting of the CAS Expert team on Weather Modification
Research (ET-WMR) Report, 7 October 2011, Bali. Online available:
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering