Proposals for climate engineering—intentional large-scale interventions in climate systems—are increasingly under consideration as potential additional responses to climate change, yet they pose risks of their own. Existing international regulation of large-scale field testing and deployment is considered inadequate. This article looks to the closest existing analogy—nuclear power—for lessons, and concludes that climate engineering research will most likely be promoted and will not be the subject of a binding multilateral agreement in the near future. Instead, climate engineering and its research will probably be internationally regulated gradually, with an initially low degree of legalisation, and through a plurality of means and institutions. This regulation is expected to proceed from norms, to non-binding and non-legal policies, and then to relatively soft multilateral agreements which emphasise procedural duties. Any eventual agreements will have trade-offs between their strength and breadth of participation. Intergovernmental institutions could play important facilitative roles. Treaties regarding liability and non-proliferation of global deployment capability should be considered.
- climate change
- global warming
- climate engineering
- international environmental law
- nuclear power
- international relations
- international environmental agreements