Thursday, January 15, 2015

Alfred de Zayas: International Law Weekend: Panel on Geo-Engineering (Excerpt)

The full original posting can be found at:

Alfred de Zayas' Human Rights Corner

International Law Weekend: Panel on Geo-Engineering
Posted Nov. 27, 2014

 https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/international-law-weekend-panel-on-geo-engineering-alfred-de-zayas/

(Excerpt)

ILA Panel on Geo-engineering – New York, 24 October 2014

 (Contents)
- Alfred de Zayas
- Relevant hard law and soft law
- Positive and Negative potential
 - Solar geo-engineering
Consequences and Outlook


- Solar geo-engineering
I would now like to switch to a fourth dimension – solar geo-engineering. Would it necessarily be a Brave New World as imagined by Aldous Huxley in 1932? It should like a magician’s trick to devise ways how to manipulate the earth’s temperature without altering the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. “Solar radiation management” aims at making the earth more reflective and thereby cooling it – SRM the call it. Another related geo-engineering technique is “direct air capture” or the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


Huge issues of democratic governance arise. In a direct democracy like Switzerland even banal decisions like building a bridge or a tunnel are subject not only to polling but also to national or regional referenda. A fortiori, the decision whether or not to implement SRM would require consultation with the general public and would have to be approved by referendum, nor merely by executive or parliamentary decision, which would be devoid of legitimacy without popular consent. Would a referendum on SRM result on a positive or negative decision by the public? This depends, of course, on the level of information available and the pro-activeness of Government in facilitating a general understanding of the issues and of the risks involved.


In countries that do not have “direct democracy”, decisions are frequently taken without proper consultation. If the executive were to decide on his own, are there any checks and balances? What would the legislative and the judiciary do? And in modern representative democracies, would Parliaments pass the necessary legislation, e.g. to define the allowed level of risk, to require environmental impact assessments, etc.? Would parliaments pro-actively inform and consult with their constituents? If Parliaments were to decide such important policies without informing the people – or even knowingly against the will of the people – could that be considered at all compatible with the country’s constitution and with a general consensus on a democratic order? Surely not – but that does not mean that it would not happen. European Parliamentarians adopted the Treaty of Lisbon without putting it to popular vote, precisely because all polls indicated that a majority of citizens in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany etc. were against the treaty. And in the only two countries where referenda on adherence to a draft European Constitution had been conducted – it was defeated by popular vote. Judging by this example, it is entirely possible that governments could adopt SRM over the heads of the electorate – and it would be for the constitutional courts of those countries to challenge the constitutionality of measures adopted undemocratically.


Then there is an issue of the international democratic order. What if only ten powerful states want to impose solar geo-engineering and 183 states are against it? Can a collating of willing States impose their will on other States? This raises huge issues of interference in the affairs of sovereign states. Even the UN would be prohibited from such interference, pursuant to article 2(7) of the UN Charter.


To read the complete post go to:


Alfred de Zayas' Human Rights Corner

International Law Weekend: Panel on Geo-Engineering
Posted Nov. 27, 2014

 https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/international-law-weekend-panel-on-geo-engineering-alfred-de-zayas/



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A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.