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

See all articles by Jesse L Reynolds

Jesse L Reynolds

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2014

Abstract

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

Reynolds, Jesse L, The International Regulation of Climate Engineering: Lessons from Nuclear Power (April 1, 2014). Journal of Environmental Law 26(2014) 269-289. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2388191

Jesse L Reynolds (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law ( email )

3508 TC Utrecht
Utrecht
Netherlands

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