Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Momentum Building for Ban at CBD

The moratorium on geoengineering activities proposed at CBD COP10 is gaining traction in informal talks at the conference. Revised text of the ban has been leaked, and there are indications that a consensus is forming in support of a prohibition.

What would a ban mean in practice? The CBD itself entails few concrete obligations other than implementing national action plans to protect biodiversity. Any moratorium would take the form of a "Decision," and the legal force of such rules is unsettled. But a formal ban on geoengineering would signal a normative shift against climate intervention. Norms matter because they frame debates, shape opinions, and inform international legal discourse. In the LOHAFEX case, opponents disrupted ocean fertilization experiments by appealing to the normative sensibilities of the German government. A more general CBD prohibition may jeopardize other types of geoengineering research.

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