Workshopping policies to promote carbon management technologies

By Sarah McCalla, J.D. Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia

On July 12-13, CMC researchers gathered to discuss carbon management technologies, and the international trade law and international investment law aspects that might impact policies on carbon management technology.

If a carbon dependent world is to successfully manage its greenhouse gas emissions, policy and law will be of central importance to the development of carbon management technologies.  Carbon management policies, such as carbon pricing, subsidies and regulatory standards, may be necessary to promote the development of sustainable carbon management technologies, such as carbon capture and storage and alternatives to gas flaring and venting. The aim of the workshop, chaired by CMC researcher, UBC Professor, and Florida State University Professor Shi-Ling Hsu was to add legal and economic input into the policy discussion surrounding carbon management policy.

International trade law is often perceived as a barrier to measures promoting environmental goals. George Washington University Associate Professor Steve Charnovitz noted that this is not necessarily the case. Well-considered policy focused on an environmental objective can be crafted to survive trade-based legal challenges. CMC researcher and University of Calgary Professor Nigel Bankes added that international investment law, also commonly perceived as being hostile to environmental measures, can also be used to promote investment in new carbon management technologies.

Over the two-day workshop, carbon management policies were discussed and evaluated with an eye to those that will make the most of opportunities provided by international trade and investment law. University of Calgary Assistant Professor Elizabeth Whitsitt discussed the impact of international trade and investment law on subsidies promoting carbon capture and storage development. University of Calgary Law alumnus Matthew Ducharme evaluated the feasibility of a Canadian regulatory standard similar to the European Fuel Quality Directive in order to promote alternatives to gas flaring and venting. Aberdeen University Professor Anatole Boute, an advisor to the Russia Renewable Energy Program of the International Finance Corporation, supplemented international investment discussions with EU case studies based on his work in Europe and Russia. And University of Ottawa Assistant Professor Nic Rivers contributed his modeling experience to the group’s discussion of the inevitable intersections between environmental and economic policy.

Policy options, which are both legally viable and technologically relevant, will be discussed in an upcoming collaborative paper.

NOTE: Workshop organizers prepared a white paper for the workshop: White paper: An International Trade and Investment Framework