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Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Climate Engineering

Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Climate Engineering

28 June 2013
We recommend a general prohibition of geoengineering activities that entail significant transboundary risks, combined with the possibility of exemptions, in particular in order to allow legitimate research

The Institute for European Studies in Brussels held a Policy Forum on 28 June 2013 which presented and discussed options and proposals for developing arrangements for the international governance of climate engineering. Based on a study for the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) led by Ecologic Institute, the proposals were presented by Dr. Ralph Bodle, Senior Fellow at Ecologic Institute, and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Oberthür, Academic Director of the IES at the Free University of Brussels. The presentation slides are available for download.

Climate engineering or 'geoengineering' refers to the deliberate intervention in the climate system to counter the effects of climate change without reducing emissions, e.g. by blocking/reducing solar radiation in the upper atmosphere or by enhancing the uptake of carbon dioxide through 'ocean fertilization'. With global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases still insufficient, options for climate engineering are receiving increasing attention. Possible drawbacks include uncertainty about  environmental impacts (e.g. changing rainfall patterns) and a considerable potential for international conflict since a unilateral deployment of climate engineering technologies may affect other countries.

Jake Werksman, Principal Adviser, European Commission, DG Climate Action, commented and discussed how governance elements of international governance may be further developed and complemented in order to minimize the potential for international conflict and environmental side-effects. Key questions were transparency of underlying assumptions regarding governance proposals as well as how and to what extent climate engineering research should be controlled.

Sebastian Oberthür
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies (IES), Belgium
28 June 2013
Brussels, Belgium
international environmental law, governance, geoengineering, climate engineering, climate, biodiversity, UNFCCC, CBD, UNEP, legal framework, regulation, world, global, solar radiation management, SRM, carbon dioxide removal, CDR