The International Regulation of Climate Engineering: Lessons from Nuclear Power
Journal of Environmental Law 26(2014) 269-289
21 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2014 Last revised: 13 May 2018
Date Written: April 1, 2014
Proposals for climate engineering — intentional large-scale interventions in climate systems — are increasingly under consideration as potential additional responses to climate change, yet they pose risks of their own. Existing international regulation of large-scale field testing and deployment is considered inadequate. This article looks to the closest existing analogy — nuclear power — for lessons, and concludes that climate engineering research will most likely be promoted and will not be the subject of a binding multilateral agreement in the near future. Instead, climate engineering and its research will probably be internationally regulated gradually, with an initially low degree of legalisation, and through a plurality of means and institutions. This regulation is expected to proceed from norms, to non-binding and non-legal policies, and then to relatively soft multilateral agreements which emphasise procedural duties. Any eventual agreements will have trade-offs between their strength and breadth of participation. Intergovernmental institutions could play important facilitative roles. Treaties regarding liability and non-proliferation of global deployment capability should be considered.
Keywords: climate engineering, climate change, geoengineering, nuclear power, international environmental law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation