--> Book chapter – Jesse Reynolds / scholar of international environmental policy
biodiversity

Emerging Technologies in Biodiversity Governance: Gaps and Opportunities for Action

Book chapter
with Florian Rabitz and Elsa Tsioumani
in Transforming Biodiversity Governance, Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers and Marcel Kok (eds.), Cambridge University Press, forthcoming
Publication year: 2021

Numerous emerging technologies have potentially far-reaching impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Simultaneously, biodiversity increasingly serves as an input for novel technological applications. We assess the relationship between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regime and the governance of three sets of emerging technologies: climate-related geoengineering (carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation modification), synthetic biology (including gene drives), as well as bioinformatics and digital sequence information. We present an overview of these technologies’ relevant applications, including potential positive and negative impacts on the CBD’s objectives; explore the state of relevant deliberations under the CBD and other intergovernmental fora, including normative gaps and opportunities for action; and assess the extent to which governance of those technologies under the CBD regime can support transformative governance of technologies and biodiversity from the vantage points of adaptiveness, integration, anticipation, inclusion and information.

Debating Climate Law

Solar Geoengineering Could Be Consistent with International Law

Book chapter
in Debating Climate Law, Benoit Mayer and Alexander Zahar (Eds.) (Cambridge University Press) 257-273
Publication year: 2021

Besides emissions reductions, CDR, and adaptation, the only remaining means to limit climate change impacts is solar geoengineering. While it could greatly reduce climate change, including in ways that the other responses cannot, solar geoengineering also poses serious environmental risks and social challenges. For these reasons, it has been controversial, including with respect to international law. In this chapter, I advocate a forceful case that the global testing or deployment of solar geoengineering could be consistent with international law. I secondarily argue that international law even encourages it. To be clear, the fact that solar geoengineering could be consistent with international law does not mean that it necessarily would be. Like all other activities of significant scale, it could be conducted in ways that would be contrary to international law.

International Governance Issues on Climate Engineering - information for policymakers

Elements and Steps for Global Governance

Book chapter
in International Governance of Climate Engineering: Information for Policymakers, Florin, Marie-Valentine (Ed.) (International Risk Governance Center) 91-107
Publication year: 2020

This chapter evaluates possible options and approaches for potential future regimes on the international governance of climate engineering. Developing international governance of CDR and SRM – especially in case of their large-scale use – will be a long process across several decades. However, meaningful steps may need to be taken soon to lay a foundation for this lengthy, uncertain process. Furthermore, some shorter-term international governance actions – including of CDR’s and SRM’s research – could be beneficial.

The chapter offers explicit criteria for the assessment of governance options, including to reduce climate change and its impacts, contribute to sustainable development, support greenhouse gas emissions reductions, establish and maintain legitimacy, foster peace and stable international relations, and reflect current knowledge and adapt to changing conditions.

Possible governance sites – including but not limited to intergovernmental institutions – are then discussed. Among possible candidates, it is difficult to imagine the international governance of CDR and SRM without the climate change regime having a central role. Because the IPCC aims to be neutral with respect to policy, it can and should contribute to, but not take the lead in governance. The biodiversity regime is well-positioned to legitimately contribute to international governance that prioritizes sustainable development and poverty eradication, although its governance would largely be limited to that concerning impacts on biodiversity. Notably, UNEP’s mandate and capabilities include identifying emerging issues, conducting scientific reviews, and catalyzing international governance across issue areas and sectors. The creation of de-novo international process and decentralized governance should also be considered.

The chapter suggests possible substantive options for governance, which are to facilitate research; encourage the responsible use of CDR; regulate risks for sustainable development; further integrate with existing governance; build governance capacity; strengthen international cooperation; leverage the private sector; implement breakpoints, stage gates and moratoria; and establish a foundation for future decision-making.

The chapter closes with six specific recommendations:

  • to distinguish between CDR and SRM as well as among the diverse CDR techniques in their additional dedicated governance;
  • to accelerate authoritative, comprehensive, and international scientific assessment;
  • to encourage the research, development, and responsible use of some CDR techniques;
  • to help build capacity for evaluating CDR and SRM in some of those countries that lack the resources to do so
  • to facilitate the elaboration and implementation of non-state governance; and
  • to explore potential further governance of SRM while remaining agnostic concerning its ultimate use.

Governing Experimental Responses: Negative Emissions Technologies and Solar Climate Engineering

Book chapter
in Governing Climate Change: Polycentricity in Action, Andy Jordan, Dave Huitema, Harro van Asselt, and Johanna Forster (Eds.) (Cambridge University Press) 285-302
Publication year: 2018
Climate Engineering and the Law

International Law

Book chapter
in Climate Engineering and the Law: Regulation and Liability for Solar Radiation Management and Carbon Dioxide Removal, Tracy Hester and Michael B. Gerrard (Eds.) (Cambridge University Press) 57-153
Publication year: 2018
Geoengineering our Climate?: Ethics, Politics and Governance

The International Legal Framework for Climate Engineering

Book chapter
in Geoengineering Our Climate working paper and in Geoengineering our Climate? Ethics, Politics and Governance, Jason Blackstock and Sean Low (Eds.) (Routledge) 125-136
Publication year: 2018
Geoengineering our Climate?: Ethics, Politics and Governance

Why UNFCCC and CBD Should Refrain from Regulating SRM

Book chapter
in Geoengineering Our Climate working paper and in Geoengineering our Climate? Ethics, Politics and Governance, Jason Blackstock and Sean Low (Eds.) (Routledge) 137-141
Publication year: 2018
Oxford Handbook of Law, Regulation and Technology

Solar Climate Engineering, Law, and Regulation

Book chapter
Climate Engineering, Law, and Regulation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Technology, Law, and Regulation, Roger Brownsword, Eloise Scotford, and Karen Yeung (Eds.) (Oxford University Press) 799-822
Publication year: 2017

Solar climate engineering—intentional modification of the planet’s reflectivity—is coming under increasing consideration as a means to counter climate change. At present, it offers the possibility of greatly reducing climate risks, but would pose physical and social risks of its own. This chapter offers an introduction to solar climate engineering, and explores its potential, risks, and legal and regulatory challenges. It also contextualizes these proposals with respect to other emerging technologies and the broader socio-political milieu. The chapter discusses the contours of existing and potential regulation, particularly at the international level. These aspects include regulatory rationales, diverse characteristics of proposed regulatory regimes, difficulties in defining the regulatory target, and the management of uncertainty through precaution. The chapter closes with suggested future research directions in the law and regulation of solar climate engineering.

Climate Change Law

Climate Engineering and International Law

Book chapter
Climate Change Law, Daniel Farber and Marjan Peeters (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Environmental Law, Michael Faure (Series ed.) (Edward Elgar) 178-188
Publication year: 2016

In the face of dire forecasts of climate change and disappointing emissions abatement, some scientists and others are increasingly suggesting and researching intentional, large-scale interventions in natural systems in order to counteract climate change. These ‘climate engineering’ or ‘geoengineering’ proposals presently appear to hold the potential to significantly reduce the risks from climate change, but they also would pose environmental and social risks and would raise numerous legal questions, particularly at the international level. After introducing climate engineering, this chapter suggests why climate engineering is challenging for international environmental law and its scholars, briefly describes applicable international legal instruments and reviews the existing legal scholarship on the international environmental law of climate engineering, with particular attention to proposals for future international regulation. It closes with suggestions for future research.

Climate Law

An Economic Analysis of Liability and Compensation for Harm from Large-Scale Solar Climate Engineering Field Research

Book chapterJournal article
5 Climate Law 182-209
Publication year: 2015

Solar climate engineering is under increasing consideration as a potential means to reduce climate change risks. Its field research may generate knowledge to reduce climate risks to humans and the environment and will, at a large-enough scale, pose its own risks, some of which will be of the transboundary kind. Liability or compensation for harm is frequently referenced as a possible component of international regulation of solar climate engineering but has been insufficiently developed. This article offers an economic analysis of the possible interrelated roles of rules, liability, and compensation in the future international regulation of large-scale field research in solar climate engineering. Notably, the benefits, risks, and incentives of climate-engineering research are unlike typical high-risk activities. The analysis proposes a hypothetical international agreement that links general and procedural rules for research, an international compensation fund, and limited, indirect state liability with a duty-of-care defence.

Reprinted in Environmental Law and Economics, Klaus Mathis (Ed.), Economic Analysis of Law in European Legal Scholarship series (Springer, 2017).

Carbon and Climate Law Review

Climate Engineering Research: A Precautionary Response to Climate Change?

Book chapterJournal article
with Floor Fleurke
Carbon and Climate Law Review 101-107
Publication year: 2013

In the face of dire forecasts for anthropogenic climate change, climate engineering is increasingly discussed as a possible additional set of responses to reduce climate change’s threat. These proposals have been controversial, in part because they – like climate change itself – pose uncertain risks to the environment and human well-being. Under these challenging circumstances of potential catastrophe and risk-risk trade-off, it is initially unclear to what extent precaution is applicable. We examine what precaution is and is not, and make a prima facie case that climate engineering may provide means to reduce climate risks. When precaution is applied to the currently pertinent matter of small to moderate scale climate engineering field tests, we conclude that precaution encourages them, despite their potential risks.

Reprinted in Environmental Law and Climate Change, Jonathan Verschuuren (Ed.), The International Library of Law and the Environment series (Edward Elgar, 2015).

Law, Innovation and Technology

The Regulation of Climate Engineering

Book chapterJournal article
3 Law, Innovation and Technology 113-136
Publication year: 2011

Intentional interventions in global physical, chemical, and biological systems on a massive scale are receiving increasing attention in hopes of reducing the threat of anthropogenic climate change. Known as climate engineering, or geoengineering, research is moving forward, but regulation remains inadequate, due in part to significant regulatory challenges. This essay asserts that key to overcoming these regulatory challenges is distinguishing between the two primary forms of climate engineering, and between deployment and research. One of climate engineering’s two primary forms, carbon dioxide removal, can largely be addressed through existing legal instruments. In the case of solar radiation management, the other primary form, focusing initially on research can bypass the geopolitical quagmire of deployment. Two other major challenges to developing regulation for solar radiation management research remain: establishing regulatory legitimacy, and developing an appropriate definition of research. Potential regulatory forms include centralized international legal instruments, fully or partially private transnational networks, and norms developed from the bottom up.

Reprinted in Environmental Law and Climate Change, Jonathan Verschuuren (Ed.), The International Library of Law and the Environment series (Edward Elgar, 2015).