Is International Law Ready for Marine Geoengineering?


Thursday, February 7, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


The EPS Faculty Lounge (Hoffman Lab 409), 20 Oxford St

On February 7th, Kerryn Brent and Jeff McGee from the University of Tasmania will give a talk titled, “Is International Law Ready for Marine Geoengineering?” followed by a Q&A and discussion. 

Summary: The world’s oceans are a key site for site CDR and SRM proposals. There is a large body of international law that governs human activities in the world’s oceans.  We find the capacity of these rules to govern marine geoengineering is limited in three ways. First, states have different rights and obligations concerning marine geoengineering depending on whether it will be conducted within a state’s territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or in areas beyond nation jurisdiction. Second, the capacity of existing international agreements to govern to marine geoengineering is limited by the number of states that have provided consent. Finally, many rules of international law that may be applicable were developed for different purposes than to govern marine geoengineering, so may struggle to cater for “risk-risk” trade-offs (i.e. climate risk v geoengineering risk) and provide fit-for-purpose environmental impact assessment procedures.  These limitations are illustrated by a recent Australian case study on proposals to develop CDR and SRM geoengineering technologies for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).