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Press Release: Intentionally "Fixing" the Global Climate Raises Complex Technological and Ethical Dilemmas
23 Jun 2014

New Delhi, 23 June 2014: The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW); and the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (INSIS), University of Oxford, jointly organised a two-day workshop on ‘Climate Geoengineering Governance’, which began today at Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi.

“The workshop aims to examine the governance arrangements that may be needed to ensure that experimentation or deployment of any of the large range of geoengineering techniques being proposed are safe, fair, effective and economic. As academic researchers we advocate none of these approaches. Instead, our aim is to make a contribution to the debate on appropriate and robust governance structures, to ensure that they are in place before any deployment of geoengineering techniques is considered,” said Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of CEEW.

Professor Steve Rayner, Director, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, noted, “India is at the frontline of climate conversation today and will play a decisive role in the future. Hence, it is important to explore possibilities of future collaborative and comparative research on geoengineering governance.” He further elaborated, “The case of geoengineering governance is unique in the history of controversial technologies. It is perhaps the first time when values are being argued upfront and public engagements are being held before the actual introduction of the technology.”

Mr Suresh P Prabhu, CEEW Chairperson and former Union Cabinet Minister, commented, “The discussion on geoengineering governance is of vital importance. This is perhaps for the first time in India that before an idea has been born, we are discussing about its governance.” He further added, “With a newly formed government, it is time to think afresh about climate change. Climate change has been caused due to the large scale deployment of technology by human beings, and the solution to tackle the problem may also be led by a technological intervention. However, while dealing with one problem, we should not give rise to another. To avoid such a situation, a governance framework is needed to determine the best technological solutions. Any governance structure should not benefit just the promotee nation but others as well.”

Day two of the ‘Climate Geoengineering Governance’ workshop will include deliberations on possible geoengineering governance structures and processes, and a roadmap for future collaborative research in geoengineering governance.

About Geoengineering Governance

Human-induced climate change poses threats to the survival and livelihoods of many peoples across the world. Early debate on possible responses focused on mitigation, in which we try to reduce carbon emissions by consuming less energy or by reducing the carbon in the energy produced. In the last decade there has also been increasing discussion of adaptation, in which we also try to see what changes we could make to better cope with climate change. Under discussion now, within the scientific community and partially within policy circles, is a third option - the use of climate geoengineering. Defined as the “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change”, the term covers a wide range of technologies, which work either by reducing the amount of the sun's radiation to reach the earth (solar radiation management - SRM) or by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the largest volume greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide removal - CDR).

There is growing international interest climate geoengineering. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included geoengineering in its Fifth Assessment Report (2014) and held its first expert consultation on geoengineering in 2011. Earlier, the Royal Society UK had published an initial assessment of technologies and put forward recommendations. Geoengineering research and related governance questions have been discussed at the national legislative and executive levels. Congressional and Parliamentary reports and hearings have been held in the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, and other studies have been commissioned by the German federal government.

With anthropogenic climate change expected to impact severely on the global south, any attempt at large-scale implementation of climate geoengineering technologies is bound to have cross-boundary effects. However, there is a governance gap, particularly at the international level. No existing institution appears to have the mandate or capacity to govern the upstream process of laying down proactive research and governance mechanisms. And the existing landscape of multilateral environmental agreements varies in terms of its relevance to governing the deployment of geoengineering technologies. Meanwhile, research activities are gaining momentum, even though the vast majority of researchers might currently be concentrated in a few developed countries, thus raising questions about the legitimacy of the research and exposing governance deficits.

About the Organisers:

CEEW: The Council on Energy, Environment and Water is an independent, not-for-profit policy research institution. CEEW addresses pressing global challenges through an integrated and internationally focused approach. It does so through high quality research, partnerships with public and private institutions, and engagement with and outreach to the wider public. In January 2014, the Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked CEEW 1st in India in three categories. For more information, visit ceew.in.

INSIS: The Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) researches and informs key contemporary and emerging issues and processes of social, scientific, and technological change. We combine the highest standards of scholarship and relevance to pursue and disseminate timely research in the UK and worldwide. We collaborate with leading thinkers around the world and welcome them to Oxford as visiting researchers. We nurture early career researchers through research fellowships in our various programmes.

For more details, kindly contact:
Mihir Shah
Communications Specialist, CEEW
Email: mihir.shah@ceew.in
Tel: +91 8585918854

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