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  • Author: Géraud de Lassus Saint-Genliês
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Global Pact for the Environment (GPE) is a draft treaty prepared in 2017 by a French think tank, Le Club des Juristes, which aims at strengthening the effectiveness of international environmental law (IEL) by combining its most fundamental principles into a single overarching, legally binding instrument. In May 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Towards a Global Pact for the Environment, a resolution that established an intergovernmental working group to discuss the necessity and feasibility of adopting an instrument such as the GPE, with a view to making recommendations to the UNGA. As the working group nears its final session, scheduled for May 20–22, 2019, this paper discusses the extent to which codifying the fundamental principles of IEL into a treaty could increase the problem-solving effectiveness of environmental governance. The analysis suggests that the added value of the proposed GPE (or any such instrument) may not be as evident as what its proponents argue. The paper also highlights the fact that the adoption of such an instrument could generate unintended consequences that would hinder the development of more effective environmental standards in the future.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Environment, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: James Bacchus
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Trade has become a taboo topic in climate negotiations on the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. This must change. The nexus between trade and climate change must be addressed in the climate regime. In particular, a definition is needed that will clarify the meaning of a climate “response measure.” Without a definition provided by climate negotiators, the task of defining which national climate measures are permissible and which are not when they restrict trade while pursuing climate mitigation and adaptation will be left to the judges of the World Trade Organization. To avoid a collision between the climate and trade regimes that will potentially be harmful to both, the ongoing deliberation on response measures in the climate regime must be reframed by ending the climate taboo on trade.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cameron S. G. Jefferies
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The high seas are a critical biodiversity reservoir and carbon sink. Unfortunately, the oceans, generally, and the high seas, in particular, do not feature prominently in international climate mitigation or climate adaptation efforts. There are, however, signals that ocean conservation is poised to occupy a more significant role in international climate law and policy going forward. This paper argues that improved conservation and sustainable use of high-seas living marine resources are essential developments at the convergence of climate action and ocean governance that should manifest, at least in part, as climate-informed high-seas marine protected areas.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Water, Maritime, Conservation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Kerryn Brent, Will Burns, Jeffrey McGee
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: After more than two decades of UN negotiations, global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, with current projections indicating the planet is on a pathway to a temperature increase of approximately 3.2°C by 2100, well beyond what is considered a safe level. This has spurred scientific and policy interest in the possible role of solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal geoengineering activities to help avert passing critical climatic thresholds, or to help societies recover if global temperatures overshoot expectations of safe levels. Marine geoengineering proposals show significant diversity in terms of their purpose, scale of application, likely effectiveness, requisite levels of international cooperation and intensity of environmental risks. This diversity of marine geoengineering activities will likely place significant new demands upon the international law system to govern potential risks and opportunities. International ocean law governance is comprised of a patchwork of global framework agreements, sectoral agreements and customary international law rules that have developed over time in response to disparate issues. These include maritime access, fisheries management, shipping pollution, ocean dumping and marine scientific research. This patchwork of oceans governance contains several bodies of rules that might apply in governing marine geoengineering activities. However, these bodies of rules were negotiated for different purposes, and not specifically for the governance of marine geoengineering. The extent to which this patchwork of rules might contribute to marine geoengineering governance will vary, depending on the purpose of an activity, where it is conducted, which state is responsible for it and the types of impacts it is likely to have. The 2013 amendment to the London Protocol on ocean dumping provides the most developed and specific framework for marine geoengineering governance to date. But the capacity of this amendment to bolster the capacity of international law to govern marine geoengineering activities is limited by some significant shortcomings. Negotiations are under way to establish a new global treaty on conservation of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including new rules for area-based management, environmental impact assessments and capacity building/technology transfer. A new agreement has the potential to fill key gaps in the existing patchwork of international law for marine geoengineering activities in high-seas areas. However, it is also important that this new treaty be structured in a way that is not overly restrictive, which might hinder responsible research and development of marine geoengineering in high-seas areas.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Law, United Nations, Green Technology, Geoengineering
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ryerson Neal
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Participants from academia and various levels of government gathered in Ottawa to discuss the often underappreciated interplay between the international climate agenda and the global trade system. The trade system has traditionally supported open flows of goods and services by disciplining tariffs, as well as trade-distorting subsidies and regulations. But there is an emerging tension between this approach and the desire of governments to address climate change through potentially trade-distorting domestic regulations and green subsidies. The challenge for policy makers is how to maintain relatively free, undistorted trade, while still giving countries sufficient policy space to implement effective measures to combat climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Regulation, Green Technology, Free Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Markus Gehring
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Economic, environmental and other international regimes are jointly facing a wicked climate problem. Climate change impacts on human activity and ecosystems have the potential to jeopardize attaining shared goals of these different regimes, and yet can only be addressed by overcoming the division and occasional conflict between their different stakeholders and areas of focus. Discussions have begun in the hallways on how trade law could best be leveraged to bring the international community together to prevent climate-related harms. This paper argues that World Trade Organization (WTO) fisheries subsidies negotiations should be a priority area for those practitioners and researchers building links between trade and climate law. It is submitted that successful fisheries subsidies reform will directly contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (“Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”), given the important synergies that exist between the transformation of fisheries subsidies and climate mitigation and adaptation. Furthermore, fisheries subsidies negotiations are of crucial importance for international climate law because they can provide a case study to learn from and increase chances of success with fossil fuel subsidy reform. This paper provides a brief historical overview of trade law negotiations aiming to reduce and reform fisheries subsidies, and shows the important synergies that exist between reforming fisheries subsidies and implementing the Paris Agreement as well as the SDGs. The paper then extracts five drivers for success that can be observed from the current process of fisheries subsidies reform: leadership of key countries and of the WTO Secretariat itself; meticulous academic, scientific and policy background analysis; commitment by civil society and the private sector; the development of alternatives to those subsidies that encourage overfishing; and inter-regime learning. Lastly, the paper discusses the transferability of these drivers for success to prevent climate harms and to address more general challenges encountered in both the climate and trade regimes.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, World Trade Organization, Maritime, Fishing
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jean-Frederic Morin, Rosalie Nadeau
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Trade agreements contain an increasing number of environmental provisions. Some of these provisions now relate to precise environmental issues, such as biodiversity or hazardous waste management. Certain trade agreements even devote entire chapters to environmental protection. However, the rate of innovative environmental clauses per agreement has declined over the years. This paper draws attention to some of the lesser-known provisions encountered in five agreements or fewer. These “legal one-hit wonders” do not often reach the billboard, despite their uniqueness and creativity.
  • Topic: Environment, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cyrus Rustomjee
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The world’s oceans are crucial to human life. They cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the earth’s water (Oceanic Institute 2016); provide vital ecosystem services; serve as a growing source of renewable energy and make crucial contributions to global food production and food security, through the provision of food, minerals and nutrients. Fish provide 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their intake of animal protein (UN Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] 2014b). Over 3.1 billion people live within 100 km of the ocean or sea in about 150 coastal and island nations (FAO 2014a), and global ocean economic activity is estimated to be US$3–5 trillion (FAO 2014b). Oceans and seas serve as waterways for global trade, with more than 90 percent of global trade carried by sea (International Maritime Organization 2012). Some 880 million people depend on the fisheries and aquaculture sector for their livelihoods (ibid.). Recognition of the services and resources provided by oceans has accelerated in recent years, spurred by the opportunities and challenges posed by a rapidly growing global population, increasing global demand for food and energy, advances in technology, and changes in patterns of global trade and human consumption. Developed countries have expanded fisheries, tourism and other oceanic and maritime industries; extended mineral exploration and extraction; and scaled up ocean-related scientific, technological and industrial research. Using increased knowledge of marine biodiversity, they have developed new value chains in pharmaceuticals, health care and aquaculture; and many have established integrated national ocean economy strategies, bringing together the regulatory, environmental, spatial, policy, institutional, industrial and other factors influencing their ability to exploit maritime resources.
  • Topic: Environment, Political Economy, Maritime Commerce, Biosecurity, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Birch
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Leaders, negotiators and scientists returned home from the recent United Nations climate change negotiations in Paris with a new mandate: to explore pathways to a world that warms no more than 1.5°C; to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries at a meaningful pace and scale; and, ultimately, to create real policy tools that can deliver prosperity that is not so fundamentally tied to burning fossil carbon. The Paris Agreement is historic in that it is universal (both industrialized and less-developed nations have agreed to the text), a heavy focus is placed on transparency and reporting of progress, and opportunities to periodically reevaluate and ratchet up ambition are built into the process. The ultimate power of this agreement, however, is not in its technicalities and legal implications. Rather, the Paris Agreement represents the manifestation of collective ambition, creating and demonstrating shared norms around the reality of climate change and the responsibility to act. This international process of negotiation and commitment is triggering a wave of conversations about how to reach these ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and adaptation targets. This will require a rapid and fundamental transformation of all sectors, including the design of urban spaces and the ways in which we produce and consume energy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Regulation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Thistlewaite, Melissa Menzies
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: To promote climate change risk mitigation in financial markets, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) recently proposed the creation of a Climate Disclosure Task Force, coordinated through the G20, to develop standards for companies to disclose their exposure to climate change risks. With more than 400 existing disclosure schemes that employ a range of different standards to measure climate change risks and corporate sustainability, this task will be challenging. But the diversity of schemes also represents an opportunity to assess which practices are effective at improving corporate accountability for sustainability performance, as well as efficient at producing comparable reports that do not unfairly burden reporting organizations. This brief identifies the key categories of governance practices that must be addressed, how these divergent practices challenge end-users, and how the establishment of criteria that define effective and efficient reporting is a critical first step for the FSB and its Climate Disclosure Task Force.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Governance, G20, Regulation, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus