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The “carbonification” of ocean governance: The oceans as the new ‘blue frontier’ of climate governance (ID331)
10:00am - 11:30am
Session Chair: Miranda Boettcher
Session Conference Streams:
Architecture and Agency
Online Panel Session
Contesting climate change in BBNJ negotiation: Practices of linking and unlinking marine biodiversity and climate change politics
Alice B.M. Vadrot
Department of Political Science, University of Vienna
Two-thirds of the world's oceans and approximately 40% of the Earth's surface constitute what we consider to be the high seas. Marine biodiversity in these areas is poorly studied, difficult to manage, and out of the scope of existing global environmental agreements. This is why governments started to negotiate a new international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). Although issue linkages between BBNJ and climate change may at first glance significantly contribute to the effectiveness of environmental regimes aiming to protect the high seas, many governments are rather hesitant to frame BBNJ as a climate mitigation solution space. However, in the context of the BBNJ negotiations themselves, issue linkages between climate change and marine biodiversity are rather contested and a political issue itself. In the current treaty draft, climate change is either mentioned in relation to general stressors on the ocean and "cumulative impacts" or in conjunction with ocean acidification. However, most references to "climate change" are bracketed text contested by actors seeking to unlink BBNJ and climate change during the negotiations. Based on ethnographic data collected during four BBNJ intergovernmental conferences, we aim to analyse related practices and understand how and why governments strategically link and unlink BBNJ to climate change politics.
The rise, fall and rebirth of ocean-based climate solutions. Constructing the ocean as a necessary field of mitigation
Kari De Pryck
Université Grenoble Alpes (PACTE)
In the context of debates on carbon neutrality, ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions, or negative emission technologies (NETs), have gained scientific and political attention. Such interest is visible among other with the publication in 2019 by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) of an assessment of marine geoengineering techniques, or the attempt by the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to develop a national research strategy for ocean-based CDR/NETs. In this paper, we explore current and historical developments around ocean-based CDR/NETs using both quantitative and qualitative methods. We present and discuss several network maps (using scientometric methods) covering a wide range of ocean CDR/NETs, including ocean fertilisation, blue carbon, ocean alkalisation, and artificial upwelling. These maps allow for an exploration of the evolution of the field as of today (November 2021) as well as in time (before and after 2015), and of its main actors (institutions, funders, journals and scientists). Combining the network maps with document analysis and expert interviews (18), we show a shift from research on iron fertilisation in the 1990s and 2000s to blue carbon in the 2010s, which coincided with politico-scientific developments in the second half of the 2000 - e.g. the London Convention/London Protocol (LC/LP) resolution restricting iron fertilisation and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on blue carbon - and a focus on no regrets strategies and co-benefits. We further link the recent interest in ocean-based CDR to the publication of the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC (SR15) which contributed to locking-in CDR in scenarios and pathways reaching 1.5 ºC and to making the development of CDR approaches seem necessary and inevitable. Overall, we aim at drawing attention to the scientific and political strategies through which ocean-based climate solutions are being put on the agenda and the need to study them as social constructions and products of historical developments, collaboration and competition.
Risking risk trade-offs in ocean fertilisation governance
Renate Reitsma1, Rakhyun E. Kim2, Miranda Böttcher3
1Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University; 2Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University; 3German Institute for International and Security Affairs
Risk-risk trade-off decisions have become inherent to the governance of environmental problems. The complex earth system, the existing structure of multilateral environmental agreements and increased human impact on the environment contribute to why decision-makers face environmental problems that cannot be solved without risking the creation of new and severe problems. For example, in 2007 Parties to the London Protocol were faced with ungoverned ocean fertilisation technologies used by private companies to mitigate climate change and offset carbon credits through the Kyoto Protocol. Inherent to the governance of ocean fertilisation is a balance between the devastating risks of climate change and the risks to the marine environment if ocean fertilisation technologies are used to mitigate climate change. How parties weighed these risks and why this process lead to the Protocol’s Amendment of 2013 remains puzzling. A better understanding of risk-risk trade-off decision-making in environmental governance requires attention. The study aims to explain how and why risk-risk trade-offs happen in global environmental governance. We used an explaining-outcomes process-tracing method to trace the decision-making process of ocean fertilisation governance between 2006 and 2013. We employed an abductive approach between an assessment of theory on risk-risk trade-offs, a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed articles that address the governance of ocean fertilisation, and empirical data collected through a content analysis of governmental documents and 15 interviews with observers and negotiators. The presence of causal mechanisms were identified through data observations that can be turned into evidence when they contribute to the explanation. This demanded an iterative process between the empirical data and existing literature and theory until a sufficient explanation of the risk-risk trade-off is the result. The result of this study is a reconstruction of the decision-making process in which trade-off decisions are the thread through the story around ocean fertilisation governance. We will have a better understanding of what trade-offs were considered and how trade-offs were weighed. We identify important conditions and mechanisms for risk-risk trade-off theory important in environmental governance. Influential factors and mechanisms include the weighing of risks, the influence of institutional structures, decision-makers’ behaviour and problem framing of advocates. Finally, the study will demonstrate the usability of a process-tracing method for analysing risk-risk trade-off cases. The policy implications relate to the international governance response to emerging climate engineering techniques which involve high levels of uncertainty about effectiveness and risks.