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J M Mauskar's Keynote Speech at Climate Geoengineering Conference
3 Nov 2014

Former Special Secretary at Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mr J M Mauskar gave a keynote speech on 'Evolving Indian Environmental Policy as a Context for the Governance of Climate Change' at the Climate Geoengineering Conference hosted by CEEW and InSIS on 23-24 June. Following are some of the key messages shared by Mr Mauskar during his keynote speech and other panel discussions:

  • Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR): The Parties did negotiate Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) under the UNFCC and at that time we were concerned about its long term impacts, high cost of technology, suitability in India and in many other developing countries etc. Arguably, CDR appears to be covered under the UNFCCC because "Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere' is the Objective in Article 2 of this Convention.
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  • Solar Radiation Management (SRM): We must be wary of this approach of reducing global temperatures. Little Ice Age (17th-18th Century AD) had coincided with very variable monsoon in India. The IPCC Report, especially of WG3 on geoengineering, has not yet been discussed in SBSTA of the UNFCCC. SRM should not undercut efforts under the UNFCCC or be implemented under any principles other than those of the UNFCCC.
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  • Uncertainties: First are those in Climate Change Science revealed in IPCC's 5th AR, like role of aerosols and cloud, feedback mechanisms and their strength, and the impact of natural variability as revealed by the temperature hiatus. Models need be tested by the reality. Second are uncertainties evident at present for geoengineering, like inadequate knowledge of theory, practical difficulties in implementation at a global scale, ignorance of short and long term global impacts etc. Lastly, Science and Technology are indeed important but so are Principles and Processes for tackling Climate Change enshrined in the UNFCCC.
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  • Anthropogenic geoengineering technologies are being brought up and discussed only in the context of Anthropogenic Climate Change. So Climate Change related Principles of Equity, CBDR etc., as agreed already in the UNFCCC, must be agreed to apply to all Geoengineering studies and implementation before we proceed any further. Because the IPCC has already reported on geoengineering in its 5th AR, nothing should be done till the UNFCCC CoPs at Lima and Paris give guidance.
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  • While the Oxford Principles, the Asilomar Principles and the EUTRACE Principles being proposed for governing geoengineering research, development and implementation have their good and not so good aspects comparatively, IPCC is the only forum to deliberate upon and report on such proposed Principles to the CoP of the UNFCCC.
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  • On governance aspects, at present, we should do only 'thought experiments' of what it would look like at the stages of modelling studies, lab experiments, pilot projects and large scale/ global roll out. There may be common or different features of governance for various technologies under CDR and SRM. In any case, scientists can begin by studying the natural analogues, like volcanic eruptions for SRM or river runoff containing iron oxide in sea for CDR.
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  • No Body, whether plurilateral groups or any individual country, other than the UNFCCC/IPCC can or should press the alarm bell, that is to decide as to when the time had come to deploy any of the geoengineering technologies .
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  • In case anyone, the EU or the USA, think that the negotiated regulation of geoengineering Research will take far too long under the UNFCCC auspices, nothing prevents them from voluntarily declaring and enforcing under their domestic laws specific rules for such a regulation- this may speed up the negotiations at least- the developed countries need to and can take the lead here!

Read: J M Mauskar's Speech on 'Evolving Indian Environmental Policy as a Context for the Governance of Climate Change'

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