Cochabamba, Bolivia - To advance meaningful international action on confronting the climate crisis, the Bolivian government is hosting a Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and The Rights of Mother Earth featuring close to 10,000 attendees. These include government representatives, social movements, non-governmental organizations and Indigenous Peoples from around the world.
March 5, 2010
As governments meet in London today to discuss whether the high seas should be used for largescale iron dumping by companies promising a quick-fix for climate change, one private company is rushing ahead with a new ocean dumping scheme in Southeast Asia – this time with urea. Civil society groups have learned that Ocean Nourishment Corporation (ONC) of Sydney, Australia has been given a “go signal” by the Philippines government to experimentally dump hundreds of tonnes of industrially-produced urea, most likely into the Sulu Sea between Philippines and Borneo.
In a shot across the bows of geoengineering companies, the London Convention (the International Maritime Organization body that oversees dumping of wastes at sea) today unanimously endorsed a scientific statement of concern on ocean fertilisation and declared its intention to develop international regulations to oversee the controversial activities. It further advised states that such large-scale schemes are “currently not justified.”
While most scientists left the Copenhagen Climate Summit feeling gloomy about their influence, a small group of geoengineering advocates came away emboldened by the summit’s weak outcome and uncertain road ahead. This group of scientists aims to get on with research and experimentation in controversial geoengineering technologies. Their real excitement is over “solar radiation management” (SRM). This is a way of “cooling down the planet’s thermostat” by reflecting a portion of the sun’s rays back to outer space, through a variety of techniques ranging from sunshades in space, to aerosol sulphates in the stratosphere, to whitening clouds. These high-risk, planet-altering schemes affect global warming without changing its cause which is excessive greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Over 160 civil society groups, including social movements and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), released a joint declaration on technology: “Let's Look Before We Leap!”. The declaration alerts governments to the absence of any precautionary environmental and social assessment mechanisms in the draft Copenhagen agreement on technology, and claims that the current approach poses grave threats to human health, human rights, rural livelihoods, diverse ecosystems and climate stability.
An international group of more than 150 civil society groups from 36 countries will release a joint declaration calling upon governments in Copenhagen to revamp the draft text on technology transfer, to ensure that the precautionary principle is respected and that high-risk and unproven climate “techno-fixes” are not allowed to put the world at risk.
BARCELONA – The international civil society network Climate Justice Now! deplores the downplaying of expectations for the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Barcelona by industrialized countries, UNFCCC officials and the host of the Copenhagen Summit. On the eve of Copenhagen, there is still no real progress on targets, a naïve and dangerous reliance on market mechanisms, no commitment to human rights, and a frightening context in which some countries are beginning to talk seriously about dangerous climate techno-fixes.
With the Royal Society’s President, Lord Martin Rees, presiding and James Lovelock, the father of the Gaia Hypothesis, commenting, the release of the Society’s report outlining the possibilities for geoengineering the world out of the climate crisis could seem the very embodiment of the precautionary principle. In his 2004 book, Our Final Century, it was Lord Rees after all who warned us that technological hubris could obliterate a million lives through “bio error or bioterror” before 2020. He is a cautious man not disposed to put faith in technological silver bullets. Likewise, Dr. Lovelock has been outspoken in his alarm over the impending climate chaos – edging toward geoengineering, but equally perturbed by the “Kafkaesque” prospects of scientists and governments trying to rejig the planetary thermostat.
The oldest scientific academy in the world, the UK’s Royal Society, will release its long-awaited report on geoengineering September 1st 2009 in London. The report, drafted by a panel dominated by geoengineering enthusiasts, is widely expected to recommend that the government support more research and perhaps even real-world experimentation of these controversial new technologies that intentionally manipulate the earth’s climate on a large scale with the aim of lessening the effects of climate change.
“Geoengineering is a bad idea, and, unfortunately, it may transform Lord Rees’s book from musings to memoir,” says Diana Bronson, researcher for the international technology watchdog ETC Group, referring to the Royal Society President’s 2004 book, Our Final Century, which suggested that humans may not live to see the end of the 21st century.
Montreal - As hundreds of delegates gathered for the Sixth Annual Conference on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing at Palais des congrès in Old Montreal, a group of NGOs held an early morning press conference across the street.