Developing a Code of Conduct for Geoengineering Research
Anna-Maria Hubert (University of Calgary )
Paper short abstract:
Geoengineering raises the long-term prospect of earth systems management with an immediate need for anticipatory, reflexive and transparent oversight of research. Drawing upon the insights of legal scholars and other disciplines, it discusses the possible elements for a code of conduct for such research.
Paper long abstract:
The recent Paris Agreement on climate change sets ambitious aims to limit the global average temperature increase to "well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels." Scientific advances and technological innovation will be critical in order to achieve rapid emissions reductions towards reaching climate objectives. However, geoengineering proposals stand apart as some of the most "radical solutions" in the spectrum of proposed strategies. Geoengineering, if pursued in any form on a large scale, raises the long-term prospect of global environmental management at the earth systems level together with a prospective immediate need for anticipatory, reflexive and transparent oversight of research related to these controversial, emerging technologies. International law is largely silent on the question of how geoengineering research should be governed or regulated. While the law supplies relevant general principles and rules, novel arrangements will be required to address the specific challenges and uncertainties raised by geoengineering research, particularly experimental interventions in the open environment. The Royal Society has recommended the development of "a code of practice for geoengineering research" that will "provide recommendations to the international scientific community for a voluntary research governance framework." This paper outlines the rationale, merits and drawbacks of such an approach. Drawing upon the insights of legal scholars and other disciplines on this topic, it discusses the possible content and form of such an instrument, which could serve as an important gap-filling measure, leading to more robust and binding forms of regulation of geoengineering in the future.
Tackling climate change by other means: opening up geoengineering governance