Ocean Visions Supports Development of Model Federal Laws to Facilitate Responsible Ocean-Based Carbon Dioxide Removal Research

ATLANTA, GeorgiaJuly 22, 2022 — Ocean Visions is partnering with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University on a new project to develop model federal laws to facilitate responsible research and development of ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.

The development of model laws is an important next step for the burgeoning field, according to a 2021 report by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which calls for the development of a legal framework for ocean-based CDR that should “appropriately balance the need for further research to enhance understanding of ocean CDR techniques against the potential risks of such research, and put in place appropriate safeguards to prevent or minimize negative environmental and other outcomes.”

The legal framework for ocean-based CDR is complex, in part because the ocean is a shared resource. In the United States, the federal government, state governments, tribal governments, and local agencies may all have some jurisdiction and/or authority. Because there are no specific legal frameworks related to ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, navigating these overlapping regulatory frameworks and jurisdictions is challenging. This work seeks to develop a model set of new laws that can facilitate research and field testing while ensuring the due diligence and transparency that the subject requires. 

Ocean-based CDR technologies have the potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, in tandem with emissions reductions, help address the climate crisis. Scientists have proposed various techniques, each requiring much more research and testing. A legal framework would help to ensure these evaluations are done safely, responsibly, and equitably.   

To inform development of model federal laws for ocean-based CDR, the Sabin Center and Ocean Visions will co-host a series of stakeholder workshops at which members of the scientific community, representatives of government bodies, and other interested parties can provide input. For more information, please contact Romany Webb at rwebb@law.columbia.edu.

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