The unexpected ocean fertilization experiment off the west coast of Canada in 2012 highlights the reality that non-governmental actors can already initiate small- to medium-scale environmental experiments and solar radiation management (SRM) field experiments with no government funding or approval. Without careful consideration and development of a governance framework for these types of experimentation, governments could be caught out having to respond ad hoc to situations driven by non-governmental actors.

This two-day workshop considered and evaluated governance mechanisms that may be useful for managing proposed SRM field experiments. Two specific procedural mechanisms were under consideration: environmental impact assessments and research registries. To ensure discussions were as realistic as possible, participants used a set of recently published SRM field experiment proposals as hypothetical examples when considering and evaluating both mechanisms. The workshop operated under the Chatham House Rule, and no attempts were made to forge consensus positions or to generate policy recommendations. Rather, this workshop was exploratory in nature, with discussions ranging widely along with personal opinions on some topics. 

  • Jason J. Blackstock

    With a unique background in physics, technology and international affairs, Jason J. Blackstock is a leading international policy adviser and scholar on geoengineering and the interface between science and global governance institutions. A professional physicist by trade and graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School, Jason joined CIGI in 2009 and leads several international research projects that evaluate the scientific, political and global governance implications of climate change.

  • A. Neil Craik

    Neil Craik is a CIGI senior fellow with the International Law Research Program, effective June 2015. He is an associate professor at the University of Waterloo with appointments to the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, where he teaches and researches in the fields of international and Canadian environmental law.