EASAC has, in its recent report on NETs , ignored the fact that NETs are simply another form of mitigation and instead incorrectly placed mitigation as a priority over NETs . This is a fundamental error caused by the notion that it is better to prevent pollution at its source than trying to clean up the whole pool of pollution itself. A similar discussion is going on in the ocean plastic pollution space. Clearly, as a society, we are aware that our actions add up and we can all as individuals do something to mitigate pollution of a given type, but that doesnt mean that we dont have to clear up the mess that we have already created. And as has been posted separately, the Chinese are attempting to clean up the particulate pollution in the air in their cities caused by coal power plants using huge filtration towers - the mitigation approach would have been to switch off the power plants. Clearly this year is of special importance for the debate as the IPCC process is going to put these issues before policymakers in various forms. There is already some sign that new US policy instruments for carbon dioxide removal will influence that discussion.
This is from Peter in another thread. *One of the distinctive properties of CO2 is that it distributes itself uniformly and so removing a CO2 molecular by flue gas capture and by Direct Air Capture have identical impacts - and are thus both pure mitigation approaches . The only distinction is that DAC can remove CO2 that was previouslly emitted by flue gas so it has the additional capability to deal with overshoot. In this frame DAC is clearly not geoengineering any more than any human activity is geoengineering because as all know too well small emissions by individuals when there are billions of us is geoengineering our plant by changing its climate . * Plus an extract from an early piece from Steve Rayner who was involved in framing the Oxford Geoengineering Princliples- http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html NTS Insight June 2011 Click here for the PDF version. <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/pdf/NTS_Insight_jun_1102.pdf> Climate Change and Geoengineering Governance By Steve Rayner. How Might We Geoengineer the Climate? The first thing to emphasise is that geoengineering technologies do not yet exist, although some of the components that might go into them are already available or are under development for other purposes. For example, carbon sequestration in geological formations, which is already being explored for conventional carbon capture and storage (CCS) from power stations,3 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> would be an integral part of a geoengineering programme to capture CO2 from ambient air by artificial means. However the front end of the system – the removal of CO2 from ambient air – is currently only available on a very small scale for use in submarines, where the very high cost of the current technology is justified. In discussing geoengineering, therefore, it is important not to fall victim to Whitehead’s (1919) fallacy of misplaced concreteness, and talk about the comparative merits and drawbacks of geoengineering technologies as if they were already well developed and known. Second, it is essential to recognise that the term ‘geoengineering’ currently encompasses a wide variety of concepts exhibiting diverse technical characteristics with very different implications for their governance. There is a tendency in some circles to seek to exempt favoured technological concepts from the category of geoengineering, leaving the term to apply only to big, scary or impractical options. This paper resists that impulse precisely because, as has just been argued, the technologies are really just ideas at this stage, and it is important not to close in prematurely on which technologies require specific levels of governance. However, the very variety of technologies suggests the need for a preliminary taxonomy of technology concepts that identifies salient characteristics for both research and governance considerations. Developing a taxonomy of technology concepts *Solar radiation management (SRM) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR)* The Royal Society (2009) identifies two principal mechanisms for moderating the climate by geoengineering. One involves reflecting some of the sun’s energy back into space to reduce the warming effect of increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is described as solar radiation management (SRM). The other approach is to find ways to remove some of the CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it in the ground or in the oceans. This is called carbon dioxide removal (CDR). *Ecosystems enhancement and black-box engineering* The Royal Society (2009) also recognises, but gives less prominence to, another way of discriminating between geoengineering technologies, one which cuts across the distinction between the two *goals*, SRM and CDR. Both goals can be achieved by one of two different *means*, described below. *Table 1: Geoengineering for climate change: taxonomy of technology concepts.* *Carbon dioxide removal (CDR)* *Solar radiation management (SRM)* *Ecosystems Enhancement* Ocean iron fertilisation Stratospheric tools *Black-box Engineering* Air capture (artificial trees) Space reflectors One is to put something into the air or water or on the land’s surface to stimulate or enhance natural processes. For example, injecting sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere imitates the action of volcanoes, which is known to be quite effective at reducing the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the earth’s surface; this is one candidate SRM technique. Similarly, we know that lack of iron constrains plankton growth in some parts of the ocean. Thus, adding iron to these waters would enhance plankton growth, taking up atmospheric CO2 in the process. This would be a potential CDR technique. The other approach to both SRM and CDR is through more traditional black-box engineering. Mirrors in space (either large ones, or more likely, myriad small ones), either in orbit or at the so-called Lagrange point between the earth and the sun, would reflect sunlight (SRM), while a potential CDR technique would be to build machines to remove CO2 from ambient air and inject it into old oil and gas wells and saline aquifers in the same way that is currently proposed for CCS technology. Combining these two means (ecosystems enhancement and black-box engineering) with the two goals described above (SRM and CDR) creates a serviceable typology for discussing the range of options being considered under the general rubric of geoengineering (Table 1). ^ To the top <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#TOP> Opportunities and Limitations of Different Approaches At first sight, it might seem that the different goals and means represented in Table 1 are alternatives. Some commentators have suggested that geoengineering is itself an alternative to conventional mitigation (e.g., Barrett, 2008; the Royal Society (2009) report has however emphatically rejected this idea). However, closer scrutiny suggests that different techniques may be suited to very different tasks and time perspectives. Currently, there is much interest in SRM using sulphate aerosols. Observations of volcanic eruptions have shown that the presence of these tiny particles in the atmosphere can effectively cool the earth. The technique is also relatively straightforward, the financial costs involved appear to be relatively modest and such a programme could be implemented quickly. Hence, many commentators see aerosols as a Band-Aid, to stop the earth from getting too hot and triggering a runaway greenhouse effect or other possible climatic emergencies (so-called tipping points). At the other extreme, air capture of CO2 using ‘artificial trees’ followed by sequestration in spent oil and gas wells or saline aquifers seems a relatively distant and costly prospect compared to aerosols. In any case, as with conventional emissions mitigation, the climate benefits of removing CO2 from the air will take longer to realise because changes in the global average temperature lag behind changes in greenhouse gas concentrations by many years. However, in principle, all the CO2 that came out of the ground could be put back there. Thus, in theory at least, air capture holds the prospect of restoring atmospheric CO2 concentrations to pre-industrial levels over the very long term. Sulphate aerosols have at least two well-recognised drawbacks. One is that the effects on the earth’s climate may be uneven, possibly causing disruption of the Asian monsoon upon which billions rely for agriculture. Another is that stopping a sulphate aerosol programme in the event of unforeseen negative outcomes would result in a sudden temperature spike, unless drastic compensating emissions reductions have been simultaneously achieved. In other words, the full environmental and social costs of aerosols may be very much higher than the programme implementation costs and there is likely to be a high level of technological lock-in. These drawbacks strongly suggest that SRM using aerosols would be controversial. Public opinion is also likely to be less than favourable towards ‘tinkering’ with earth systems, especially through what could be described as deliberate air pollution. Furthermore, the transborder implications of any deployment of the technology suggest that international agreement would be required; and international agreement on climate actions has proven to be highly elusive. On the other hand, except where the geological formations used for storage cut across national boundaries, regulation of air-capture technology would seem to be almost entirely a matter for the governments of the countries in which it is implemented.4 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> Furthermore, in the event that the technology did have unforeseen negative consequences, there would be no technical barrier to switching the black-box machines off, although it could be argued that vested commercial interests might push to keep them running due to the sunk costs involved. Geoengineering techniques such as the injection of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere may mimic the cooling effect caused by large volcanic eruptions. *Credit*: Game McGimsey / U.S. Geological Survey. This is the geoengineering paradox (Rayner, 2010). The technology that seems to be nearest to maturity technically and could be used to shave a few degrees off a future peak in anthropogenic temperature – that is, sulphate aerosols – is likely to be the most difficult to implement from a social and political standpoint, while the technology that might be easiest to implement from a social perspective and has the potential to deliver a durable solution to the problem of atmospheric CO2 concentrations – that is, air-capture technology – is the most distant from being technically realised. The two technologies appear to be the bounding cases and other geoengineering technologies fall somewhere in between. The above brief example of the specificity of geoengineering applications helps to emphasise the Royal Society (2009:47) findings that geoengineering cannot be considered as an alternative to conventional mitigation nor can its merits be evaluated sui generis because the technologies involved ‘vary greatly in their technical aspects, scope in space and time, potential environmental impacts timescales of operation, and the governance and legal issues that they pose’. Furthermore, the Royal Society (2009:ix) concluded that the ‘acceptability of geoengineering will be determined as much by social, legal, and political issues as by scientific and technical factors. There are serious and complex governance issues that need to be resolved.’ ^ To the top <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#TOP> The Challenges of Geoengineering Governance The key challenge of geoengineering governance is that articulated in 1980 by the British sociologist, David Collingridge, as the ‘technology control dilemma’. Briefly, the dilemma consists of the fact that it would be ideal to be able to put appropriate governance arrangements in place upstream of the development of a technology, to ensure that all the stages from research and development through to demonstration and full deployment are appropriately organised and adequately regulated to safeguard against unwanted health, environmental and social consequences. However, experience repeatedly teaches us that it is all but impossible in the early stages of the development of a technology to know how it will turn out in its final form. Mature technologies rarely, if ever, bear close resemblance to the initial ideas of their originators. By the time certain technologies are widely deployed, it is often too late to build in desirable characteristics without major disruptions. The control dilemma has led to calls for a moratorium on certain emerging technologies and, in some cases, on field experiments with geoengineering.5 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> A moratorium would make it almost impossible to accumulate the information necessary to make informed judgements about the feasibility or desirability of the proposed technology. However, Collingridge did not intend identification of the control dilemma to be a counsel of despair. He and his successors in the field identify various characteristics of technologies that contribute to inflexibility and irreversibility and which are therefore to be avoided where more flexible alternatives are available. These undesirable characteristics include high levels of capital intensity, hubristic claims about performance, and long lead times from conception to realisation, to which the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP, 2008) recently added, in the context of nanoparticles, ‘uncontrolled release into the environment’. Consideration of the control dilemma suggests that it would be sensible to favour technologies that are encapsulated over those involving dispersal of materials into the environment; and those that are easily reversible over those that imply a high level of economic or technological lock-in. The other key challenge for geoengineering governance lies in the varying degrees of international agreement and coordination that would seem to be required for the different technologies involved. At least upon first examination, carbon air capture with geological sequestration would not seem to require much in the way of international agreement, except where the geological formations chosen for storage cross national boundaries and possibly where facilities are located close to national borders, or where sequestration is to occur offshore.6 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> National planning regulations, rules governing environmental impact assessment, and health and safety laws, would seem to provide, at least in principle, an adequate framework for ensuring the responsible management of the technology where there is little prospect of transborder damage occurring to people or the environment. Existing national legislation for the governance of CCS from fixed-point sources (e.g., coal-fired power plants) without an overarching global governance framework underscores this point. However, the situation seems to be very different with CDR involving iron fertilisation because it involves modification of natural processes that cannot be territorially contained. Similarly, any kind of SRM, whether involving space mirrors (black-box engineering), or cloud whitening or sulphate aerosols (modification of natural processes), would seem to require international agreement even for field trials, let alone deployment. The Royal Society (2009) suggests that many issues of international coordination and control could be resolved through the application, modification and extension of existing treaties and institutions governing the atmosphere, the ocean, space and national territories, rather than by the creation of specific new international institutions. All geoengineering methods fall under provisions of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which impose a general obligation to ‘employ appropriate methods, for example impact assessments, … with a view to minimizing adverse effects … on the quality of the environment, of projects or measures undertaken to mitigate or adapt to climate change’ (UN, 1992). Additionally, there are several customary laws and general principles that would apply to such activities. For instance, the duty not to cause significant transboundary harm is recognised in many treaty instruments7 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> and by customary international law. As the Royal Society (2009:40) observes, ‘[s]tates are not permitted to conduct or permit activities within their territory, or in common spaces such as the high seas or outer space, without regard to the interests of other states or for the protection of the global environment’. The use of sulphate aerosols for SRM may fall under the jurisdiction of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer as they may have ozone-depleting properties. Ocean fertilisation has already caught the attention of the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter and its 1996 Protocol (known as the London Convention and Protocol), which has adopted a cautious approach to permitting carefully controlled scientific research through a 2008 resolution agreeing that the technology is governed by the treaty but exempting legitimate scientific research from its definition of dumping. The Convention on Biological Diversity has also sought to intervene to prevent ocean fertilisation experiments except for small-scale experiments in coastal waters.8 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> Potentially lengthy negotiations would be necessary before sulphate aerosols could be deployed by any country or other agent within an agreed international governance framework.9 <http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/rsis/nts/HTML-Newsletter/Insight/NTS-Insight-jun-1102.html#ftn> Without such a framework, such activities would likely attract the condemnation of the international community. Overall, the international legal framework within which geoengineering will be conducted remains as under-specified as the technologies themselves. Furthermore, the control dilemma means that it is almost impossible to determine governance requirements until the shape of any of the technologies under consideration is better known. This dilemma led the Royal Society (2009:61) to recommend establishing an international scientific collaboration to ‘develop a code of practice for geoengineering research and provide recommendations to the international scientific community for a voluntary research governance framework’. On Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 3:52:53 AM UTC, Christopher Preston wrote: > > An introductory blog piece about why intention makes a difference in > climate forcing. > > > https://plastocene.com/2018/02/20/philosopher-meets-meteorologist-to-talk-about-climate-engineering/ > -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "geoengineering" group. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to geoengineering+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. To post to this group, send email to email@example.com. Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/group/geoengineering. For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.