Regulating Geoengineering Research Through Domestic Environmental Protection Frameworks: Reflections on a Recent Canadian Ocean Fertilization Case

Carbon and Climate Law Review, Volume 7, Number 2, 2013

14 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015

See all articles by Alastair Neil Craik

Alastair Neil Craik

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Enterprise and Development; Balsillie School of International Affairs

Jason J Blackstock

University College London

Anna-Maria Hubert

University of Calgary - Faculty of Law; University of Oxford - Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS)

Date Written: March 1, 2013

Abstract

Field experiments related to the development of geoengineering technologies are now occurring in an increasing number of countries. Such projects are raising important questions about the adequacy of national environmental protection laws (EPLs) for regulating geoengineering activities, including their ability to enforce emerging international norms for geoengineering research.

This article considers the application of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to a 2012 controversy over ocean iron fertilization off the coast of British Columbia. This incident provides an important precedent for analyzing existing domestic legislation and administrative measures being called upon to regulate geoengineering activities outside of the laboratory. To date, the attention of legal scholars has mostly focused on the content and adequacy of international rules. However, as this case illustrates, the interpretation and implementation of these rules in domestic legal systems is critically important, as it is predominantly within domestic frameworks that such rules have direct legal effect on private and non-governmental actors. Our analysis highlights some key challenges for EPLs in regulating geoengineering activities, and draws some tentative conclusions regarding the structure of domestic environmental protection frameworks for regulating geoengineering research.

Keywords: geoengineering, ocean fertilization, London convention, protocol

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Craik, Alastair Neil and Blackstock, Jason J and Hubert, Anna-Maria, Regulating Geoengineering Research Through Domestic Environmental Protection Frameworks: Reflections on a Recent Canadian Ocean Fertilization Case (March 1, 2013). Carbon and Climate Law Review, Volume 7, Number 2, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2617371

Alastair Neil Craik (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Enterprise and Development ( email )

200 University Av. W.
Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1
Canada
519.888.4567, Ext. 36578 (Phone)

Balsillie School of International Affairs ( email )

67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2
Canada

Jason J Blackstock

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Anna-Maria Hubert

University of Calgary - Faculty of Law ( email )

Murray Fraser Hall
2500 University Dr. N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Canada

University of Oxford - Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) ( email )

64 Banbury Road
Oxford, OX2 6PN
United Kingdom

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