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My area of expertise is broadly in the field of international and Canadian environmental law. Much of my research to date has focused on decision-making processes in international environmental law, including primary obligations of prior assessment and consultation, as well as governance arrangements in support of environmental decision-making. My current areas of interest relates to the environmental regulation of the global commons. I am particularly interested in assessing whether there is an emerging, distinct body of legal principles that are shared among different global commons regimes. While my research looks across a wide variety of commons issues, the principal areas of policy I am currently engaged in concern climate engineering and deep seabed mining.
In relation to Canadian environmental law, my interests relates to the implementation of climate policy and environmental impact assessment.
My research is supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation. I have previously received research support from the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Harrison McCain Foundation, and Genome Canada.
Current areas of focus
The international law of the global commons
See separate project page.
The international law of environmental assessment
The international law of environmental impact assessment continues to evolve. While the obligation to conduct EIAs is well established in treaty and customary international law, there remain questions concerning the implementation and salience of EIA obligations under conditions of high uncertainty and where consensus on environmental objectives is contested. Among the emerging issues currently attracting attention are the application of EIA to areas beyond national jurisdiction, the integration of adaptive management techniques, ecosystem services and offsets into EIA processes, and the human rights dimensions of EIA processes. I am also interested in the integration of climate change considerations into environmental assessment processes.
My principal publications in this area include
- “Environmental Assessment: A Comparative Legal Analysis”, in Vinuales and Lees (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Law, (Oxford University Press, 2018)
- “Environmental Impact Assessment”, in Kramer and Orlando (eds.): Principles of Environmental Law. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018) (part of Encyclopedia of Environmental Law).
- “Biodiversity-inclusive Impact Assessment”, in Razzaque and Morgera, eds. Biodiversity and Nature Protection Law, (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2076, forthcoming) (Part of Encyclopaedia of Environmental Law)
- “Principle 17: Environmental Impact Assessment” in Jorge Vinuales (ed,) The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: A Commentary, Oxford Commentaries on International Law (Oxford University Press, 2015) 451-470
- The International Law of Environmental Impact Assessment, (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
The legal regulation of deep seabed mining
Deep seabed mining is moving closer towards the exploitation phase, and the International Seabed Authority (which regulates deep seabed mining on behalf of the international community) is engaged in the development of rules governing responsible extraction activities. The status of the deep seabed as the common heritage of mankind creates new legal challenges. As part of a project funded by the Centre of International Governance Innovation, I am co-convening a group of experts examining questions relating to legal liability for environmental harm stemming from mining activities.
- “Enforcement and Liability Challenges for Environmental Regulation of Deep Sea Bed Mining” (2016), International Seabed Authority Discussion Paper No.4, ISA, Kingston, Jamaica, June 2016
- “Book Review: Robin Warner, 2009. Protecting the Oceans beyond National Jurisdictions: Strengthening the International Law Framework” (2010) The Yearbook of Polar Law, v.2, 329, 4 pages
Climate geoengineering law and governance
Climate geoengineering, understood as large-scale interventions in the Earth’s climate to counteract the effects of climate change, raises significant legal and governance challenges. My research in this area focuses on the rules that govern scientific experimentation, particularly field experiments, including researcher obligations for transparency and public consultation. I am also interested in the integration of climate geoengineering considerations into the broader framework of climate governance under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.
- “Developing a National Strategy for Climate Engineering Research in Canada, CIGI Papers No. 150, 2017
- Climate Engineering inder the Paris Agreement: A Legal and Policy Primer, CIGI Special Report, 2016 (with Wil Burns).
- “International EIA Law and Geoengineering: Do Emerging Technologies Require Special Rules?”, 2015 Climate Law, v.4, 111-141.
- “Disclosure-based Governance for Climate Engineering Research”, CIGI Paper No. 50, Centre for International Governance Innovation, 2014 (with N. Moore)
- “Regulating Geoengineering Research Through Domestic Environmental Protection Frameworks: Reflections on the Recent Canadian Ocean Fertilization Case”, 2013 Carbon and Climate Law Review 7(2), pp. 117-124 (with J. Blackstock and A-M Hubert)