19 Sep 2012
Geoengineering a Future for Humankind: Some Technical and Ethical Considerations
by Rafael Leal-Arcas, Queen Mary University of London - School of Law; World Trade Institute, University of Bern and Andrew Filis, Queen Mary, University of London
The term ‘geoengineering’ relates to the various strategies and techniques aimed at containing and, in some cases, reversing the effects of anthropogenic and other forms of environmental degradation. These strategies and techniques range from the fairly innocuous to the highly scientifically and politically controversial. Given the trans-boundary effect of environmental degradation and the urgency that this creates, the concerted efforts of the international community are indispensable to usefully enlist whatever benefits geoengineering is capable of offering. However, serious obstacles stand in the way of the international community acting in unison. This paper seeks to outline the various contentious issues regarding geoengineering that arise in relation to its ethical, technological, political, and trade-related legal dimensions. Along with State actors, it is likely that this field of activity would be highly reliant on market mechanisms to deliver the technological solutions and capital investment that are necessary. Clear rules in relation to how these strategies and techniques ought to be governed are in urgent need. Rules should not be limited to the governance aspects, but should also provide for the commercial use of geoengineering.
Keywords: geoengineering, climate change mitigation, trade and geoengineering, governance