TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Nov10/01)
2 November 2010
Third World Network
De facto moratorium on geoengineering adopted by CBD Parties
Published in SUNS #7031 dated 2 November 2010
1 Nov (ETC) -- In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention
on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a de facto moratorium on geoengineering
projects and experiments on 29 October.
The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week
10th meeting of the CBD Conference of Parties (COP10) that met 18 to
29 October and which included 112 environment ministers, asks governments
to ensure that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to
the environment and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and
economic impacts have been appropriately considered.
The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering
proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. The unusually
strong consensus decision builds on the 2008 moratorium on ocean fertilization
adopted by COP9 in Bonn. That agreement put the brakes on a litany
of failed "experiments" - both public and private - to sequester
atmospheric carbon dioxide in the oceans' depths by spreading nutrients
on the sea surface.
Since then, attention has turned to a range of futuristic proposals
to block a percentage of solar radiation via large-scale interventions
in the atmosphere, stratosphere and outer space that would alter global
temperatures and precipitation patterns.
"This decision clearly places the governance of geoengineering
in the United Nations where it belongs," said ETC Group Executive
Director Pat Mooney. "This decision is a victory for common sense,
and for precaution. It will not inhibit legitimate scientific research.
Decisions on geoengineering cannot be made by small groups of scientists
from a small group of countries that establish self-serving voluntary
guidelines' on climate hacking. What little credibility such efforts
may have had in some policy circles in the global North has been shattered
by this decision."
Mooney added that the UK Royal Society and its partners should cancel
their Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative and respect that
the world's governments have collectively decided that future deliberations
on geoengineering should take place in the UN, where all countries have
a seat at the table and where civil society can watch and influence
what they are doing.
Delegates in Nagoya
have clearly understood the potential threat that deployment - or even
field testing - of geoengineering technologies poses to the protection
of biodiversity. The decision was hammered out in long and difficult
late night sessions of a "friends of the chair" group and
adopted by the COP10 Working Group 1 plenary on 27 October 2010. The
Chair of the climate and biodiversity negotiations called the final
text "a highly delicate compromise."
"The decision is not perfect," said Neth Dano of ETC Group
Philippines. "Some delegations
are understandably concerned that the interim definition of geoengineering
is too narrow because it does not include Carbon Capture and Storage
technologies. Before the next CBD meeting, there will be ample opportunity
to consider these questions in more detail. But climate techno-fixes
are now firmly on the UN agenda and will lead to important debates as
the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit approaches. A change of
course is essential, and geoengineering is clearly not the way forward."
See http://www.etcgroup.org/en/node/5217 for Geopiracy: The Case
Against Geoengineering that is a new publication by ETC Group that provides
an overview of the issues involved.
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