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Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering

Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering

Geoengineering as a potential option for climate policy is gaining attention at the policy interface.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of the existing regulatory framework and its gaps, the authors of Ecologic Institute identify general options and specific recommended actions for the effective governance of geoengineering. A key consideration is that the recommendations can be implemented in practice.

First, the study explores whether and to what extent it is useful and feasible to have a single definition of geoengineering for governance purposes. It then analyses the existing governance of geoengineering in international law, with a brief overview of EU and German law. On this basis, it develops specific regulatory options and proposals. We analyse why governance of geoengineering should be pursued and develop specific proposals how such governance should be designed.

  • The study first makes explicit the objectives and functions that governance of geoenginering is to fulfil. The geoengineering debate for the most part has not addressed this issue.
  • Second, it derives core elements of appropriate governance design from these objectives and criteria.
  • Third, we assess which geoengineering techniques require international governance on the basis of the objectives and criteria.
  • Fourth, we identify governance gaps where the existing international framework does not correspond to our proposed core governance elements.
  • Fifth, we make proposals to fill the governance gaps.


Bodle, Ralph; Sebastian Oberthür; Lena Donat et al. 2014: Options and Proposals for the International Governance of Geoengineering. Ecologic Institute, Dessau-Roßlau.

Published In
Climate Change 14/2014
215 pp.
Table of Contents

1 Summary
1.1 Definition of geoengineering
1.2 The existing legal framework
1.2.1 International Law
1.2.2 Conclusions on existing international governance
1.2.3 European Law and German Law
1.3 Regulatory options and proposals
2 Zusammenfassung
2.1 Definition von Geoengineering
2.2 Der bestehende Regelungsrahmen
2.2.1 Völkerrecht
2.2.2 Bewertung bestehender internationale Governance
2.2.3 Europäisches und deutsches Recht
2.3 Regelungsoptionen und -vorschläge
3 Introduction
4 Definition of geoengineering
4.1 Definitional context
4.2 Existing definitions
4.3 Activity
4.4 Intent
4.5 Purpose
4.6 Scale
4.7 Conclusions
5 The existing legal framework
5.1 International Law
5.1.1 Introduction
5.1.2 Cross-cutting general rules
5.1.3 Stratospheric aerosol injection
5.1.4 Cloud brightening from ships
5.1.5 Desert reflectors
5.1.6 Installations in outer space
5.1.7 Carbon capture and storage
5.1.8 Ocean liming
5.1.9 Ocean biomass storage
5.1.10 Biomass and biochar
5.1.11 Enhanced weathering
5.1.12 Carbon capture from air (‚artificial trees‘)
5.2 European Law and German Law
5.2.1 Introduction
5.2.2 Cross-cutting general rules
5.2.3 Stratospheric aerosol injection
5.2.4 Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
5.2.5 Carbon capture from air (‚Artificial Trees‘)
5.2.6 Biomass and biochar
5.2.7 Enhanced weathering
5.3 Conclusions on existing law
5.3.1 International law
5.3.2 EU and German law
6 Regulatory options and proposals
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Governance proposals
6.2.1 Historical overview
6.2.2 Common features of existing governance proposals
6.3 Objectives and criteria for international geoengineering governance
6.3.1 Particular characteristics of geoengineering relevant to governance
6.3.2 Reasons for geoengineering governance
6.3.3 How to regulate and design governance
6.4 General approach and main governance options
6.4.1 The normative perspective: Instruments and techniques
6.4.2 The institutional perspective: The emerging institutional complex of geoengineering
6.4.3 Preliminary choice of main governance options
6.5 Current governance: analysis and assessment
6.5.1 Assessment of the existing governance
6.5.2 Gaps in the existing governance
6.5.3 Conclusions from gap analysis: Which geoengineering techniques should be subject to international governance?
6.6 Options for filling the governance gaps
6.6.1 Options for overarching functions
6.6.2 Options for addressing in more detail the gaps for specific geoengineering techniques
6.6.3 Options for special scientific/technological tasks, e.g. coordination of research
6.7 Conclusions and proposals
7 Annex I: Overview of selected governance proposals
8 Annex II: Expert Workshop 5./6. November 2012
8.1 Discussion paper
8.1.1 Introduction: The UBA research project
8.1.2 State of play in geoengineering governance
8.1.3 Criteria for geoengineering governance
8.1.4 Assessment and Options
8.1.5 Options for Future Framework
8.2 Summary
8.2.1 Introduction
8.2.2 Background presentations
8.2.3 General points
8.2.4 Governance design
8.2.5 In particular: CBD
8.2.6 Normative perspective
8.2.7 Moral hazard
8.2.8 Research
9 References
9.1 Literature
9.2 List of treaties

international environmental law, Governance, Geoengineering, climate engineering, research, Solar Radiation Management, SRM, Carbon Dioxide Removal, CDR, climate, Biodiversity, UNFCCC, CBD, legal regulations, international environmental law, global, Analyse