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UCL Launches Online Legal Resource for Carbon Capture and Storage

University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Law and the Environment has launched an online resource that brings together the different elements of law surrounding carbon capture and storage technology (CCS). The Carbon Capture Legal Programme is the first resource of its kind, and will be of use to governments, companies, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations involved in carbon capture programs across the world.

CCS technology is widely thought to offer one of the key solutions to ongoing carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. However, there are many legal complications to CCS, which crosses into areas such as marine legislation at international, regional and national levels; international climate change legislation; and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Carbon Capture Legal Programme’s new open access website is the first online resource to detail the relevant legal information in all these areas, and the Centre for Law and the Environment is the first dedicated centre for research into the related legal issues.

The website will provide in-depth commentary on legislation that may be applicable to carbon capture and storage projects situated onshore or offshore; as well as the legal impacts of the climate change and emissions trading regimes and environmental liabilities, which are also considered by many as posing significant implications for the development, regulation and financing of CCS projects.

Rapid technological development and innovation has resulted in disparate legal frameworks, which are not well-aligned to the new CCS technologies. The methods proposed for the capture, transport and storage of carbon dioxide have raised a host of important legal questions, at international, regional and national level.

With CCS gaining a higher policy profile, there is currently an extraordinary amount of policy and legal development taking place at international, regional, and national level. In many instances information of latest developments can be found on various web sites, which are concerned with succinct areas of regulation at the international, regional or national level. There is not, however, a readily accessible resource base which links across the arenas. As a result, even those heavily involved currently do not find it easy to know what is happening in parallel but distinct areas.

The website will provide a focus for our ongoing work in this exciting and fast-moving area. The Programme and accompanying website are the first of their kind in this field of legal research and it is hoped they will promote further analysis and exploration of the key legal issues surrounding CCS.

—Professor Richard Macrory, Director of the UCL Centre for Law and the Environment

The two-year program is sponsored by Rio Tinto, RPS Group plc, RWE npower and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. At the UK level, the program was endorsed by both DEFRA and the DTI in December 2006. The UCL Centre for Law and the Environment will work closely on the project with the University of Oslo’s Research Group in Natural Resources Law. The Group has worked with legal issues related to CCS since 2003 and is the key institution in this field in Norway, the leading European country testing the practicalities of sub-seabed CCS.



No doubt someone has worked out the migration law on creatures from another galaxy, it's just they haven't found a use for it yet. I guess this research will point out who to sue if CO2 escapes like the Lake Nyos incident.

I understand there are now some 30 pilot trials of CCS worldwide, mostly avoiding the problem case of landlocked coal fired power stations. Surely one of these difficult cases will 'go commercial' soon if the technology works.

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