I) The public trust doctrine and geoengineering
The Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) is a legal construct that dates back to Roman times. Familiarly applied to the shoreline between high and low tides, natural resource assets under a public trust (PT) are held in a form of collective ownership for public benefit at a national level. The state has a fiduciary duty to maintain and preserve the assets placed in a public trust for the benefit of current and future generations.
II) Licence to chill: Building a legitimate authorisation process for commercial SRM operations
Solar Radiation Management (SRM) has been suggested as a technique to counteract some of the changes expected as a result of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
It has been suggested that SRM could be carried out by commercially motivated actors. This process has been envisaged as using the Voluntary Carbon Offset (VCO) market as a mechanism for monetising the SRM process, due to the secondary effects of SRM on the carbon cycle.
Current VCO customers are typically businesses: those looking to be ‘carbon neutral’ or reselling offsets alongside high-carbon goods and services (for example, airlines). Other potential VCO customers include states, or philanthropists. In this short scoping paper we provide a broad overview the issues of regulation and legitimacy, as may be applicable to the activities of future commercial SRM actors. We discuss the need for a two-pronged regulatory approach, encompassing first legal and corporate regulation and second, scientific and technical regulation. In conclusion, we identify differing regulatory requirements, according to whether the intended effect on the climate system of the SRM industry, or of individual firms, can be regarded as de minimis. We additionally suggest the use of a two-tier market place structure in order to ensure regulatory demands can be efficiently and transparently enacted.
Andrew Lockley is a Research Assistant at UCL, working mainly in the field of geoengineering economics. He also moderates the geoengineering Google group. His particular interest is in alternative financial and social models of geoengineering commencement.