Sunday, October 20, 2013

London Protocol Adopts Amendments to Regulate All Marine Geoengineering

Last Friday, parties to the London Convention/London Protocol (LC/LP) on ocean dumping formally adopted amendments which would establish a new "positive list" of marine geoengineering techniques that could be permitted under the Protocol, subject to a test of scientific legitimacy using tailored "Assessment Frameworks."  The amendments are a slightly modified version of a proposal originally put forward by Australia, Nigeria, and South Korea in May (see New London Protocol Proposal to Regulate Marine Geoengineering, 5/18).  Like that earlier proposal, the amendments as adopted include only ocean fertilization on the initial positive list, with provision for the addition of other marine geoengineering methods.

The amendments represent an expansion of scope for the LC/LP beyond its current sole focus on ocean fertilization to possibly encompass other techniques such as enhanced weathering or microbubbles.  Furthermore, as amendments rather than resolutions (the official status of all previous ocean fertilization provisions), these new rules, if they enter into force, would be legally binding on consenting parties rather than strictly voluntary.  The amendments will enter into force 60 days after two-thirds of the Contracting Parties deliver an "instrument of acceptance."  The amendments were adopted at the 35th meeting of the LC and the 8th meeting of the LP, held jointly in London.

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