HOME Campaign Statement on the SCoPEx Advisory Committee and its legitimation of Solar Geoengineering
Blocking the sun on a vast scale to cool the planet: that’s the idea being pushed by a small group of geoengineers. Solar geoengineering is a dangerous set of proposals that could have disastrous effects, particularly in the Global South. And geoengineering will do nothing to address the structural causes of climate change; that’s why it has the enthusiastic backing of the fossil fuel industry.
Extreme caution should be taken with regard to these kinds of experiments. The full effects of a deployment of solar geoengineering are uncertain. For example, abruptly halting the full-scale deployment of solar geoengineering could cause a sudden increase in global temperatures – known as “termination shock”. Unintended, devastating impacts on plant, animal and human life worldwide are also possible.
The “small” open-air experiments cannot be uncoupled from the advancement of the full-scale technology. The experiments that are proposed today will tell us little about the technology’s effects on the climate. They will, however, make large-scale implementation more likely.
Solar geoengineering technologies pose uncertainties, and carry high environmental and social risks. Like Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies, they would entrench problematic techno-solutions and policy ideas for the climate crisis. Meanwhile, corporations such as oil, coal, gas and agri-business would be less likely to be held accountable for their role in creating the crises we find ourselves in. They could benefit from the development and deployment of these new technologies.
Because of its many potential impacts, solar geoengineering is subject to a de-facto moratorium backed by 196 countries – the parties to the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). The US is not a party to the CBD.
The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), a project for testing equipment for solar geoengineering based at Harvard University, is attempting to circumvent this call for precaution. By creating an “Advisory Committee” that would engage with the public and provide “advice,” they are attempting to avoid a real discussion on the dangers and governance of solar geoengineering.
The Committee’smission is ”to ensure that the SCoPEx project is undertaken in a transparent, responsible, and legitimate manner.” The committee, by definition, cannot do this. It has no qualifications and no jurisdiction to do so. All of the members of the advisory committee are based in the United States, and most of them are academics. They were selected by a panel of three scientists known to be supportive of geoengineering research.
Previously,40 organizations sent a letter to each member of the SCoPEx Advisory Committee, appealing to them to stop providing legitimacy to a project that flies in the face of the will of the majority of the world. The letter reads, in part:
Decisions about geoengineering require global, democratic, transparent governance, and while we understand the Advisory Committee’s aim is to contribute to a consideration of some of the global dimensions of this project, it should be clear that an appointed body cannot replace global, democratic and transparent governance of a geoengineering project that has far-reaching implications.
The Committee never responded to this letter, and instead, they are now calling for comments on the project to be sent to them in a process that totally lacks transparency – incredibly, only the committee will see the comments! We consider this a mockery of participation, and a clear step towards legitimating the project. We therefore refuse to participate in this charade.
This technology, if developed and implemented, has the potential to negatively affect billions of people. Researchers say that solar geoengineering could have the following effects (among many others):
- Droughts and flooding in Africa and South America
- Disruption of the Monsoon in Asia
- Unanticipated feedback effects that destabilize the global climate
- Increased political and economic power for the fossil fuel industry
- Military and geopolitical uses by countries who control the technology
The effects of developing solar geoengineering technology, in other words, are global. They are part of an attempt to unilaterally open a pathway to solar geoengineering, which is a threat to humanity.
We call instead for a halt to SCoPEx and all other geoengineering open air experiments. A global bottom-up debate with broad grassroots and Global South participation should be the starting point of any discussion of its governance. This debate should address not only the negative effects of geoengineering, but open the question of whether it is something that should be explored at all.
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More information about geoengineering here.
Signatories to the statement:
- Abibiman Foundation (AF) – Ghana
- AbibiNsroma Foundation (ANF) – Ghana
- Acción Ecológica – Ecuador
- Acción por la Biodiversidad – Argentina
- African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) – South Africa
- African Ecofeminists Collective – Africa
- African Water Commons Collective – South Africa/Africa
- Agricultural Policy Network-Kenya
- Fundacion Aguaclara – Venezuela
- Alianza por la Biodiversidad en América Latina – International
- Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities (AERC) – Ghana
- Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth) – Spain
- Association Adéquations – France
- BASE IS – Paraguay
- Biofuel Watch – UK and USA
- Blue Planet Project (BPP) – Canada
- Censat Agua Viva / Friends of the Earth – Colombia
- Centro de Protección a la Naturaleza y la Multisectorial Paren de Fumigarnos – Argentina
- Centro Ecológico – Brazil
- Colectivo por la Autonomía – Mexico
- Colectivo Viento Sur – Chile
- Congo Basin Conservation Society CBCS-NETWORK – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Consumers Association of Penang – Malaysia
- Corporate Accountability International (CAI) – USA
- Corporate Accountability & Public Participation (Africa) – Nigeria
- Desarrollo Económico y Social de Los Mexicanos Indígenas, a.c. (DESMI, A.C.) – Mexico
- ETC Group – International
- Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Socioambiental – FMCJS – Brazil
- Friends of the Earth Australia – Australia
- Friends of the Earth International – International
- Friends of the Earth Malaysia – Malaysia
- Friends of the Earth Scotland – Scotland
- Fundacion Aguaclara – Venezuela
- Fundación La Negreta, República Dominicana – Dominican Republic
- Fundación Terram – Chile
- Geoengineering Watch – USA/International
- Global Justice Ecology – USA
- Global Justice Now – International
- Grain – International
- Grassroots Women Initiative Network – Kenya
- Growth Partners Africa – Kenya
- Grupo de Estudios Ambientales (GEA AC) -Mexico
- Grupo Semillas – Colombia
- Gobierno Territorial Autonónomia de la Nacion Wampis – Peru
- Health of Mother Earth Foundation – Nigeria
- Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) – International
- IGAPO Project – France
- Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) – Turtle Island (North America)
- International Association of People’s Lawyers – Australia
- Red Internacional Descolonialidad del Poder y Autogobierno – SocialJusticia
- Ambiental (JA!) – Mozambique
- Kenya Food Rights Alliance – Kenya
- Kenya Peasants League – Kenya
- La Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental – México
- La via Campesina (LVC) Southern and Eastern Africa
- Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres / World March of Women – Chile
- Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climatico (MOCCIC) – Peru
- No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) – Africa
- NOAH / Friends of the Earth – Denmark
- Núcleo de Agroecología de Brasil (GWATÁ) – Brazil
- Oilwatch International
- Oilwatch Togo – Togo
- Programa de Pos Grado em Geografia, UEGoiás (PPGEO/UEG) – Brazil
- Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad – Costa Rica
- REDES-AT / Friends of the Earth – Uruguay
- Regional collective / La Via Campesina – Colombia
- Research and Support Center for Development Alternatives-Indian Ocean (RSCDA-IO) – Madagascar.
- Santa Cruz Climate Action Network – USA
- South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) – South Africa
- Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC) – South Africa
- Sustainability and Participation through Education and Lifelong Learning (SPELL) – Philippines
- The LEAP – Canada
- Third World Network (TWN) – International
- TONATIERRA – USA
- WhatNext? – International
- Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) – USA
- WoMin African Alliance – Africa
- World Rainforest Movement (WRM) – International
- Young Christian in Action for Development – Togo
- Youth for Environment Education and Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation) – Nepal