Global Environmental Politics

Master's Degree Programs in Global Environmental Policy and in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development


Briefing Paper on Climate Engineering

Our GEP director Simon Nicholson has helped to put out a new briefing report on climate engineering along with David Morrow, faculty-in-residence with the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, and Janos Pasztor, senior advisor to the UN Secretary General on Climate Change. Read the summary below or click the link to read the whole article!

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The push for 100 percent renewables: Tallying corporate progress

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An example of the great work of AU SIS graduates! Read Joshua Kaplan’s article, “The push for 100 percent renewables: Tallying corporate progress,” originally published on GreenBiz, below. Josh received degrees from American University in sustainability management and environmental studies, and currently is a Program Officer with WWF’s Renewable Energy program; he is involved in working with WWF’s business partners to create innovative approaches to scaling up renewable energy cost-effectively.

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Contesting the Unethical City: Land Dispossession and Corruption Narratives in Urban India

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AU SIS Assistant Professor Malini Ranganathan has published an article in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers with her colleague from the University of Arizona, Sapana Doshi: “Contesting the Unethical City: Land Dispossession and Corruption Narratives in Urban India.” Dr. Ranganathan is a critical geographer whose work looks at the overlap of human and urban geography, cultural anthropology, and critical development studies. Read the abstract for her publication on the impact of corruption discourse in Mumbai and Bangalore below.  Continue reading


Climate Engineering under the Paris Agreement: A Legal and Policy Primer

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About the Authors 

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.  

 Wil Burns

Wil Burns is a CIGI senior fellow with the International Law Research Program, effective July 2015. Until recently, he served as director of the Energy Policy & Climate Program at Johns Hopkins University, and now serves as co-director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a scholarly initiative of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC.

While the Paris Agreement does not address the issue of climate engineering expressly, the target of limiting global average temperature rise to no more than 2°C (a goal that appears unlikely to be achieved in the absence of significant amounts of carbon removal) raises questions with respect to how the issue of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) technologies may be addressed under the Paris Agreement. This report examines the specific provisions of the Paris Agreement with a view to identifying where legal and policy questions in relation to climate engineering are likely to arise. Inclusion of CDR technologies as part of a state’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) is permissible under article 4 of the Paris Agreement, but will likely trigger concerns respecting technological readiness and equity. SRM technologies would appear to have little entry room within the Paris Agreement, but the process mechanism of the agreement provides opportunities to satisfy SRM research governance demands for transparency and public deliberation. The report concludes that the building blocks for an internationally integrated approach to climate engineering law and policy are faintly present in the Paris Agreement’s procedural and institutional capacities. As research activities generate a clearer understanding of the feasibility of CDR and SRM technologies, bringing the science to bear on the normative commitments to equity, human rights and the nature of climate change as an issue of common concern will be critical to realizing a broader coherence in global climate policy under the Paris Agreement.

Read the full report here.


New CIGI Report – The Paris Agreement and Climate Geoengineering Governance: The Need For a Human-rights Based Component

centre-for-international-governance-innovation-cigiDr. Wil Burns, a Scholar in Residence at AU’s School of International Service and co-director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, has authored a new report for the Center for International Governance Innovation titled “The Paris Agreement and Climate Geoengineering Governance: The Need For a Human-rights Based Component.”

“There has been growing recognition in the past decade at both the international and domestic levels of the potential ramifications of climate change for the exercise of human rights. Even more recently, the locus of concern has expanded to include the human rights implications of response measures to confronting climate change. The newly adopted Paris Agreement includes language that calls on its parties to consider, respect and promote the protection of human rights when taking actions to address climate change. However, the agreement fails to suggest specific means to operationalize this mandate.

This paper suggests a framework for achieving the objective of protecting human rights in the context of climate change response measures. It focuses on one suite of emerging potential measures that fall under the general rubric of “climate geoengineering,” which is defined as efforts to effectuate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment through technological options in order to counteract the manifestations of climate change. The paper suggests that the parties to the Paris Agreement utilize a human rights-based approach as a framing mechanism to ensure that the potential human rights implications of climate geoengineering options are assessed in the policy-making process moving forward. Such an approach may help to ensure that any potential negative ramifications of climate geoengineering options on the human rights interests of the world’s most vulnerable peoples are taken into account and minimized. Moreover, this analysis might help us to flesh out more broadly the contours of the new human rights language in the Paris Agreement.”

Read the full report here!


United States–Cuba Agricultural Relations and Agrarian Questions

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Dr. T. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, a GEP professor, has published an article in the Journal of Agrarian Change on the agricultural opportunities in Cuba that come with the start of economic shifts and U.S. trade opportunities. She writes about the new problems and prospects that result from exchange with the U.S., and how Cuban farmers and cooperatives are working to avoid potentially harmful business paths.  Read the abstract for “United States-Cuba Agricultural Relations and Agrarian Questions” below!

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