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EU Calls for Global Dialogue on Risks of Climate Geoengineering

The European Commission's call for international talks on geoengineering risks reflects the growing need for global cooperation in addressing climate change.

Shivam Dwivedi
EU Calls for Global Dialogue on Risks of Climate Geoengineering (Photo Source: Pixabay)
EU Calls for Global Dialogue on Risks of Climate Geoengineering (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The European Commission has made a call for international discussions on the risks and governance of geoengineering, emphasizing the "unacceptable" dangers associated with manipulating the Earth's climate.

As countries struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a sufficient pace to combat climate change, the interest in geoengineering as a potential solution has grown. However, the use of these interventions to alter planetary systems to address global warming remains highly contentious.

Frans Timmermans, the European Union climate policy chief, emphasized the significance of collaborative decision-making and highlighted that conducting experiments alone with our shared planet should be avoided. He further stressed the necessity of discussing these matters at the highest international level and in the appropriate forums.

Geoengineering encompasses various techniques, including direct removal of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. While some plants are already operational in capturing small quantities of CO2, it is crucial to note that they are still far from offsetting countries' overall emissions. On the other hand, solar radiation modification (SRM), a more controversial approach, involves reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface. One proposed method involves spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect more light back into space.

In a document released by the Commission, it stated that SRM, in its current developmental stage, presents an "unacceptable level of risk for humans and the environment." This statement underscores the potential hazards associated with such practices. Timmermans proposed that the United Nations could serve as a suitable platform for addressing the risks and potential utilization of geoengineering techniques. The goal would be to ensure that all nations have a voice and can participate in decision-making processes.

While the European Union is funding two projects to evaluate geoengineering methods, it has explicitly stated that neither project will develop or test SRM techniques. The EU recognizes that these approaches are incapable of fully resolving climate change since they fail to address the fundamental cause, which is the emission of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

The scientific community remains divided on the topic of SRM. Over 100 scientists signed a letter in February supporting research to understand whether SRM could temporarily mitigate the immediate risks of global warming while countries work on reducing their emissions.

However, other scientists have called for a ban on solar geoengineering, highlighting the challenges associated with governance and the potential for unforeseen consequences, including impacts on weather patterns and agriculture.

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