The Legal dimension of the CO2RE evaluation framework evaluates the applicability of regulatory regimes to GGR projects with a view to their sustainable scale up. The emerging GGR sector relies on technological advancements which can cause regulatory regimes to lag behind. Simultaneously, the time pressure of global warming, impending net-zero commitments, and the Paris Agreement’s goals limit the time available for reaching the appropriate regulatory response.
An adequate legal regime will be crucial for a timely and sustainable scaling up of the GGR sector. The current regulatory landscape governing GGR methodologies in the UK is unclear and riddled with uncertainties. The Legal dimension provides a general framework for evaluating the extent of regulatory treatment for each GGR project. Its primary aim is to help the key stakeholders to assess how the regulatory regime affects the deployment of specific GGR projects. This, in turn, sheds the light on potential issues in the legal system and flags up where further action could be undertaken.
Legal aspects might apply, for instance, on the basis of the nature of the GGR activity being proposed and whether it requires planning approval. In the case of the latter, a stakeholder consultation may be required, implicitly opening scope for review and appeals processes, which may in turn be open to third parties. Legal aspects may also apply according to the medium(s) – air, water, land – on which it is anticipated the GGR activity may have an impact. The outcomes or by-products of the GGR activity may also invoke regulation, for example, through the waste generated and the way in which it needs to be treated, transported, recycled, reused or disposed of; other transport requirements arising from the activity, whether up front in relation to material inputs or at the end in relation to product; and the potential for land contamination as a result of the GGR activity.
The legal implications will be different depending on the specific GGR component activities and the regulatory measures applied. On one hand, the regulators can aim to control GGR effects and impose prohibitions and other regulatory controls. On the other, the regulators can adopt supportive measures for GGR adoption, such as exemptions from controls, government policy promotion, public funding, and standardisation. Hence, the Legal dimension evaluates the application and the extent of regulatory control and support with respect to the GGR project’s component activities.
A stepwise approach along the following lines is proposed for evaluating the application and potential impact of laws and regulations to GGR methodologies:
1. Survey generic categories of laws/regulations that may need to be taken into account in the relevant jurisdiction(s) (e.g., assessment/planning, air, water, land, resources, health and safety). The appropriate generic categories applicable will need to be determined in the case of any particular evaluation;
2. Identify the proposed GGR process – break it down into its basic component activities and its regulated parts which may be subject to regulatory controls/support (e.g., planning, emissions, transport, waste disposal, etc.). For which processes to include please consult the guidelines described in the Quality of reporting indicators;
3. Consider the application of existing general laws/regulations to each of the GGR process basic component activities in the relevant jurisdiction(s);
4. Consider the application of laws/regulations specific to the GGR process or any of its elemental steps in the relevant jurisdiction(s) (e.g., laws that apply to wetlands that may affect peatland restoration; or laws that apply to activities in coastal areas, that may affect seagrass restorations);
5. Assess the (i.) extent of control/support established by the identified regulatory treatment of the basic component activities; and (ii.) colour code according to evaluation outcomes.
The stepwise approach will provide the user with a comprehensive table or a similar visual instrument. It will illustrate the extent of controlling and supporting regulatory regimes as applicable to the project’s component activities. Those will be colour coded consistently with the next categories:
|Colour code||Basic description||Elaboration|
|Inhibits/acts to slow down GGR scaling up||Prohibition; burdensome regulatory controls and no support|
|Neutral effect but tending to inhibiting effect||Both controlling regulations (burdensome regulatory controls) and weak supporting policies that on balance tend more to inhibit|
|Neutral effect||There may be both controlling regulations and supporting policies that counter-balance each other (onerous controls, substantial support; mild control, weak support)|
|Neutral effect but tending to facilitating effect||Both controlling regulations (weak regulatory controls) and strong supporting policies that on balance tend more to support|
|Supports/acts to facilitate GGR scaling up||Not subject to regulatory controls and facilitation by regulatory mechanisms|
Navraj Singh Ghaleigh
University of Edinburgh
Prof Sanja Bogojevic
University of Oxford
Dr Justin Macinante
University of Edinburgh
University of Oxford