Editor’s Note: Geoengineering Governance Systems

This journal’s volume on geoengineering builds off of our previous environmental issue, on maritime governance, in that the topic’s development grew from a concern with existing international climate mitigation efforts. While continuing to believe that active and coordinated efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions are the best precaution against catastrophic climate change, the editorial staff was interested in the viability of alternative options for preventing the atmosphere from overheating. One such option discussed was geoengineering, which encompasses a wide array of efforts to actively combat climate change, either by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or by directly counteracting their heating effects through other atmospheric deployments. At the time such concepts were relatively nascent, although gaining increasing attention from the climate community.
While planning for this symposium, the journal was fortunately connected with the organizers of a global conference convened at Asilomar Conference Center to discuss the science of geoengineering. This conference sought to establish a global governance agreement akin to those governing recombinant DNA research in a series of conferences at Asilomar in the 1970s.
Through a series of conversations, we reached an agreement whereby the journal would contribute to this process and particularly to the post-conference dialogue by publishing submissions on a set of key governance issues, by conference attendees. The focus of this volume is on proper governance tools, and specifically how scientific and political practicalities might inform good legal policymaking going forward. The pieces we are happy to present cover an array of topics, from the role of the United Nations in any final decision to the proper attention due to recognition of intergenerational rights. They represent the perspectives of a small number of the over 200 people who attended the conference, but they pull together many of the governance and legal questions effectively.
In the following paragraphs, we provide a brief summary of the key themes of the symposium and the accompanying articles.

© 2011 The Stanford Journal of Law, Science & Policy