International EIA Law and Geoengineering: Do Emerging Technologies Require Special Rules

25 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

Date Written: June 11, 2015

Abstract

This article explores the adequacy of the international rules on environmental impact assessment (EIA) to contribute to geoengineering governance with a focus on three fundamental challenges. First, the near universal trigger for EIA is the likelihood of significant environmental impact, which may prove to be insufficiently precautionary in light of current risk preferences surrounding geoengineering. Second, the scope of EIA has traditionally focused narrowly on the assessment of direct physical impacts, however many of the concerns that geoengineering research raises relate to environmental and social risks associated with downstream technological implications. A third and related challenge is the consultation requirements under EIA laws, which focus on affected States and affected members of the public. Because many geoengineering activities are anticipated to impact the global commons, there is no clear institutional mechanism for implementing notification and consultation. Additionally, the broader sets of concerns that geoengineering raises are spatially unbounded, again making the identification of consultation partners uncertain. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the challenges and limitations of the rules of EIA for geoengineering.

Keywords: geoengineering, international environmental law, environmental impact assessment, technology assessment

Suggested Citation

Craik, Alastair Neil, International EIA Law and Geoengineering: Do Emerging Technologies Require Special Rules (June 11, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2648518 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2648518

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

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