The Carnegie Council Calls for Global Governance to Regulate Geoengineering

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by Derrick Broze, Activist Post:

As the Carnegie Council calls for global governance to regulate climate engineering, advocates and opponents of the controversial technology prepare for a looming policy debate. 

On December 8, the Carnegie Council released an essay calling for policymakers to invest resources into creating new forms of governance as a response to increasing calls for climate engineering, or geoengineering. The essay is part of a growing push for funding for research into the controversial science of modifying or engineering the climate, and a recent push towards global government which could regulate the technology. Geoengineering is the deliberate and large-scale manipulation of the weather and climate using a variety of technologies. One popular form of geoengineering promoted by scientists is known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), which involves spraying aerosols from planes equipped with particulates designed to reflect sunlight in an effort to combat “anthropogenic global warming.”

We are potentially at the dawn of an age of geoengineering. It is time for policymakers to start discussing whether geoengineering is to go forward and, if so, how. – The Need For Governance of Climate Engineering, Carnegie Council

The essay, published in the Council’s peer-reviewed journal Ethics & International Affairs, starts out by stating that lawmakers around the world need to accept the “uncomfortable reality” that man-made climate change is causing environmental destruction. “Despite the best efforts of national governments and thousands of mayors and other civic leaders, we can no longer contain global average temperatures to below 1.5–2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels through mitigation of carbon emissions alone,” the author writes.

According to the report, the answer to this apparently unstoppable apocalypse will likely include some form of geoengineering and policymakers need to have these important discussions and debates. The author describes the resurgent interest in geoengineering and stresses the increasing likelihood that “a group of countries or cities or even one or more wealthy individuals might decide to deploy geoengineering technologies during the coming decades.”

The author does a great job of illustrating the need to find answers to difficult and complex questions. For example, the Council asks, “How would we govern such actors? Who assesses the balance of risks and rewards when deploying geoengineering technologies? What safeguards and what compensation mechanisms need to be built in? If we start deliberately altering global temperatures, who controls the global thermostat?”

 

The Carnegie Council previously created the  Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative to “bring the profoundly complex issues of geoengineering governance and ethics to a much wider audience.” The new essay is part of the effort to bring these issues to the minds of policymakers and the general population. The author does not hesitate to emphasize the goal of international or supranational governance for climate engineering. Emphasis added:

In other words, the real question facing humanity might not be whether or not to go ahead with geoengineering technologies, but how to govern them when they inevitably arrive. This will require a high degree of knowledge about geoengineering technologies, and will entail a considerable amount of work to understand the risks. This is something no one group can do alone. The world as a whole needs to deal with this, involving all levels of society.

The Carnegie Council acknowledges that the effort to build a “wider geoengineering governance community” has already begun. “Many of our staff come from a United Nations and intergovernmental background, and we have already engaged with many governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental actors,” the report states. The council is also working with “numerous nonstate actors active in the climate and sustainable development space” and religious leaders. “Ultimately, we hope a large and diverse network of individuals will emerge across a range of institutions to drive the debate nationally and internationally.”

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