«ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, NATURE CONSERVATION, BUILDING AND NUCLEAR SAFETY Project No. (FKZ) 3711 11101 ...»
to make the effort and join a new geoengineering governance institution, in particular in the light of existing governance? One reason could be that avoiding the shortcomings of and gaps in the existing overarching governance, notably the CBD, outweighs the political effort and risk involved in setting up a new institution. A new institution’s clear mandate for and focus on geoengineering, combined with flexibility and a light touch approach to governance, could be attractive compared to the complexity of the CBD regime and other potential candidates. On the other hand, a purely light touch approach could lead to a merely administrative body lacking the necessary political weight. In addition, a single focus on geoengineering could perhaps make this issue too prominent for some states. Besides these considerations, we do at this stage not see compelling reasons why states would prefer to create and join a new institution.
In any event, if a new overarching institution were to be created, it would have to be considered how it should relate to the other institutions (a) that are already involved and (b) that could become involved in geoengineering governance. This would primarily include the design of the relationship with the CBD in addition to other institutions.
18.104.22.168 Conclusion There are good reasons for overarching governance functions to be performed. There is a risk of governance conflicts arising from differing objectives, membership or means of governance.
The overarching governance functions should manage the emerging institutional complex in this regard, although they do not necessitate a completely centralised regime. The CBD has already assumed some of these functions, but only to some extent.
If there is to be an overarching institution performing overarching governance functions
addressing geoengineering, we see the following main options:
• a new institution or
• the CBD.
The main advantage of using existing institutions such as the CBD is institutional economy:
saving time and political energy against setting up new ones, and making use of their political standing, experience and expertise. A potential disadvantage is that the limitations and shortcomings also apply to geoengineering governance from the outset. For instance, a mainly scientific body might not have the necessary political experience or standing and vice versa. A new function such as geoengineering governance could also disrupt or overburden an otherwise functioning treaty regime. Geoengineering might become sidelined or taken hostage in the negotiations on other issues within that institution.
Other institutions with mandates for potential overarching governance, such as the UNGA, UNEP or the UNFCCC, have so far provided no guidance or merely recalled guidance by other regimes on specific geoengineering techniques. However, while the UNFCCC has important drawbacks, the trade-off underlying the assessment of the UNFCCC, in particular viv-a-vis the CBD, is a difficult one. The advantages of the UNFCCC are not easily outweighed, and institutional economy on its own might not be reason enough to choose the CBD, unless there is also confidence that the governance provided by the CBD is implemented and effective.
UNEP might be a second-best solution for overarching governance, as it is the only relevant overarching international environmental institution and might assume a strengthened role in the course of its current reform.
Whether new or existing institutions are used for geoengineering governance, or whether a central approach is preferred, there will be a need for coordination with other institutions. For Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering better or worse, any forum chosen for geoengineering governance will have to take into account the existing work of the CBD and the LC/LP. Other regimes could be fitted into the regime complex e.g. by reporting to the CBD. The CBD has made a first start in its 2012 decision on geoengineering by “inviting” parties to report the implementation of its previous guidance and requesting the Secretariat to make this information available through the clearing house mechanism.
There is no governance design that guarantees that regime conflicts will be completely avoided. Effective coordination with other institutions and consistency can be formally prescribed only to a limited extent, although it can evolve dynamically from within the institutions. A key objective particularly in a governance structure that includes a central institution should be broad participation including at least the key actors and potential geoengineering states, and also those that may be affected. The risk of rivalry or conflicts can also be reduced by ensuring that political decisions are taken on the basis of a broadly shared scientific input, e.g. from other institutions.
6.6.2 Options for addressing in more detail the gaps for specific geoengineering techniques We identified in particular atmospheric SRM by aerosol injection as the main governance gap, as it is not covered by governance and regulatory structures that are adequate according to our proposed main governance elements. Which institution could address in more detail the gaps for atmospheric SRM?
The CBD could be considered as an option because is has to some extent started to occupy the field of overarching governance. Its mandate would cover atmospheric SRM, unless it is argued that such SRM would not have potential impacts on biodiversity and its conservation. 604 The CBD also fulfils some functions of our proposed governance elements at least to some extent (see above). However, the reasons that speak in favour of the CBD performing overarching governance functions do not necessarily apply to specialised governance of atmospheric SRM.
For instance, while the scientific input generated within the CBD and the wide spectrum of tasks could be sufficient for providing overarching governance functions for geoengineering, it might be more difficult for the CBD to feed in the more specialised knowledge and agree on measures for a particular geoengineering technique. In the case of ocean fertilisation, the CBD basically followed the lead by the LC/LP. Despite these caveats, in view of the current governance gap for SRM activities, the CBD may also be the most appropriate forum for pursuing more concrete governance arrangements.
Similar considerations as for the CBD apply to the UNFCCC. In addition, from past experience it is difficult to imagine the UNFCCC performing governance of a particular activity in the sense of establishing permitting requirements etc. If the UNFCCC addressed atmospheric SRM, under its current design and logic it would most likely be as a crediting issue. On its own this would not be adequate in meeting the governance challenges posed by atmospheric SRM and in performing the governance elements outlined above.
The ozone regime, i.e. the 1985 Ozone Convention and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, could be considered, as it is a regime specialised on protecting the ozone layer and the injection of H2S and SO2 into the stratosphere could result, at least seasonally and regionally, in increased ozone A problem with this argument is that, consequently, it would mean that the existing CBD decisions on geoengineering governance were adopted ultra vires.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering depletion (see section 5 on the existing framework). Both treaties have almost universal participation including all states considered relevant for geoengineering. However, the scientific knowledge of the impacts of atmospheric SRM on the ozone layer is incomplete, in particular of substances other than sulphur. Although the Ozone Convention’s mandate would allow it to establish further knowledge and provide guidance, it may be unusual for this general framework convention structure to do so, given the limited role it has so far played regarding specific activities. 605 The Montreal Protocol is the instrument with specific obligations regarding ozone-depleting substances and is widely acknowledged as one of the most successful multilateral environmental agreements. Potential problems regarding the scope of these instruments could probably be addressed to some extent by interpretative action of the parties, similar to the LC/LP. However, this would probably not be possible in respect of SRM techniques that do not affect the ozone layer, i.e. presumably not for space installations and perhaps not for cloud brightening. In addition, previous attempts to broaden the interpretation of the mandate of the Montreal Protocol in respect of certain substances politicised that issue, which is an important risk if tried for geoengineering. On this basis, the ozone regime is not from the outset a more promising option, as its suitability depends on improved knowledge of the effects of atmospheric SRM on the ozone layer, and also on the political risk described above.
The recently amended LRTAP regime could be a further alternative, as its more technical approach to air pollution, developed over time through specialised and updated protocols, could be regarded as a successful governance example (see section 5). On the other hand, the LRTAP regime is only a regional regime complex for the UNECE region, the most recent protocol of which includes only about 25 parties and which excludes states such as India or China. A further point of caution is that governing atmospheric geoengineering might risk overburdening the LRTAP regime, although the opposite argument might be made that a small specialised regime could facilitate governance development. Bearing these caveats in mind, regional action under the LRTAP regime could complement or perhaps even spearhead global governance efforts.
The WMO has a broad mandate in respect of the atmosphere, but does not seem appropriate for the same reasons outlined above in respect of overarching governance functions, mainly the lack or normative experience and political weight.
As outlined above for overarching governance functions, UNEP could also be considered.
Launching a process under UNEP on atmospheric SRM may be a second-best alternative at the international level and might avoid some of the shortcomings and risks of the CBD. While some of UNEP’s shortcomings in respect of overarching governance functions also apply to specific governance of atmospheric SRM, they may be less significant for filling a specific governance void, or be overcome e.g. by linking UNEP with in ad-hoc governance (see next paragraph).
For a new institution, the same considerations apply as above in respect of overarching governance functions. Given the concerns and disadvantages regarding the existing institutions, and the risks in setting up an entirely new institution, ad-hoc governance is also an option to be explored for governance of atmospheric geoengineering. International climate policy has seen the establishment of several loosely-knit initiatives in recent years, such as the Bodle et al (2012) 129.
Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering Climate and Clean Air Coalition. 606 These political fora seek progress on specific issues more or less outside and in parallel to the existing treaty regimes and formal negotiations. This type of ad-hoc governance could be explored as an alternative for atmospheric SRM if existing fora such as UNEP by themselves turn out to be not viable for governance functions. 607 6.6.3 Options for special scientific/technological tasks, e.g.
coordination of research:
As international (and national) governance of geoengineering advances, demand for international scientific and technological assessments is likely to grow. In particular, demand for regular assessments may arise in respect of the creation and development of geoengineering techniques.
It is useful to distinguish between different types and functions of scientific assessments and
a) The general current state of knowledge on geoengineering and its risks: This does not need to be specifically prescribed or regulated as part of international governance. There are several research programmes as well as overview reports such as the CBD study. 608 The IPCC will also address geoengineering in its Fifth Assessment Report (see above).