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Timeline Events / ‘Geoengineering the Climate – Science, Governance & Uncertainty’

‘Geoengineering the Climate – Science, Governance & Uncertainty’ is a report published by the Royal Society in September 2009 providing an assessment of the main geoengineering options for addressing climate change as well as a discussion of geoengineering governance issues such as those related to research and development and the potential deployment of geoengineering measures.

This was the first major publication addressing the potential of geoengineering solutions to address climate change. The report is important because it reviews technological fixes to the climate change problem that do not involve reducing carbon emissions. It also legitimises further research into the controversial geoengineering field. Given the slow political progress of climate change talks and the accelerating growth of emissions it is highly likely that this publication will influence science and technology
policy in the context of climate change in the coming decades.

The report was premised on a recognition of the widespread, diverse and significant impacts and costs of climate change, for which global efforts towards mitigation and adaptation are yet insufficient, specifically attention towards the reduction of emissions sufficient to avoid large-scale impacts.

The result has been interest in geoengineering, defined by the Royal Society’s report “as the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change.”

Acknowledging a lack of “accessible, high quality information on proposed geoengineering techniques which remain unproven and potentially dangerous”, the study aims to assess the various methods, their potential effectiveness and also possible risks posed.

In particular, it examines two types of geoengineering techniques: Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) (to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM) techniques (to reflect some of the sun’s light and heat away from Earth back into space)

The report recommends that parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change should increase efforts toward mitigation and adaptation; that “CDR and SRM geoengineering methods should only be considered as part of a wider package of options for addressing climate change” and that “CDR methods should be regarded as preferable to SRM methods.” The report also recommends that the UK government fund a ten year research programme into geoengineering, and with regard to governance that “The Royal Society, in collaboration with international science partners, should develop a code of practice for geoengineering research and provide recommendations to the international scientific community for a voluntary research governance framework.”

Timeline entry contributed by Matthew Gross and Joe Bull

Source: 'Geoengineering the Climate - Science, Governance and Uncertainty'

Link: http://royalsociety.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10768

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