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Thursday, October 10 • 14:35 - 14:55
The Regulation of Rocket Emissions

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With the dawn of industries such as space tourism, asteroid mining and space colonization, we are at a critical stage in the commercial use of outer space. A spike in missions indicates a drastic proliferation in the number of rockets launched when such activities become feasible. However, studies have revealed that an increase in rocket launches could cause irreversible environmental damage, including ozone depletion and global warming, due to the chemicals discharged by certain rockets. The effects of pollutants such as black carbon may alter atmospheric circulation and increase surface temperatures. The issue hence demands regulatory attention, as repercussions of increasing rocket launches would far outweigh those of aircraft flights if rocket launches amplify. The need to regulate rocket emissions has been acknowledged by the international legal community, yet the issue continues to evade regulation. My presentation will elaborate on the legal perspective and emphasize the need to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to address this issue.

My presentation introduces the issue by outlining past studies on the environmental impact of rocket emissions. I then discuss the inadequacy of the space treaties, specifically the Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention. These provisions demonstrate that there is no obligation on States to persuade their non-State actors, particularly companies venturing into the commercial space arena, to curb emissions or switch to cleaner rocket fuels which discharge less-polluting by-products. I propose legal principles that can be applied, based on a comparative study of international regimes within the aviation and maritime sectors. My conclusion emphasizes that collaboration with the scientific community is imperative, as well as the inclusion of economic and political inputs to design a successful mechanism to regulate rocket emissions.


Nivedita Raju

LLM Student, McGill University
I am an LLM candidate and Arsenault Fellow at the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law. My LLM Thesis explores the need to regulate rocket emissions in light of adverse environmental impact. My interests in space law focus on the sustainability of outer space and permissible military... Read More →

Thursday October 10, 2019 14:35 - 14:55 EDT
Room CR1 ICAO - 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal, QC H3C 5H10