October 17th 2013. Source: Corporate Europe Observatory
Next month’s UN climate talks in Warsaw, aka COP19, will be remembered as ‘the Corporate COP’. While the international climate negotiations have become progressively more oriented towards the needs of big business – and less around the needs of the climate – this year it has reached new heights, in particular the ‘pre-COP’ organised by Poland’s Minister for Environment Marcin Korolec: dirty industry were invited to precook the negotiations before it has even begun. What’s more worrying is that Korolec and the UN want to make such blatant corporate capture a permanent fixture at all talks.
Last week’s ‘pre-COP’ saw around 40 ministers and negotiators meet for three days with representatives from big business. Some of the most polluting, climate-damaging companies were present, including chemicals giant BASF, cement producer Cemex, builder of Poland’s biggest coal plant Alstom and Poland’s biggest coal, oil and gas company PGE. Also present were corporate lobby groups like employers federation BusinessEurope, their Polish counterparts Lewiatan, the American International Business Council and the Brazil National Confederation of Industry, all of whom have been lobbying against tougher climate regulations.
As already reported on this blog, the meeting to decide this November’s negotiating agenda was an invite only affair for government and business, with civil society excluded. So no public scrutiny, no accountability, and only the Minister’s own conclusions to indicate what was discussed. But Korolec, in his post-meeting comments, saw that as a good thing:
“I am very much satisfied with the meeting. We had an honest and open dialogue among the ministers, which is only possible to achieve at closed, unofficial sessions.” Continue reading
ETC Group’s Jim Thomas discusses the risks of “planet hacking,” or geoengineering, and its inclusion in the latest international climate science assessment after heavy pressure by resource-rich countries like Russia.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.
27 September, 2013. Source: ETC Group
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published the first installment of its latest climate change Assessment Report, AR5, the final paragraph of its Summary for Policymakers – a bullet point referring to proposals for deliberately altering climate systems – has caused consternation by addressing the controversial topic of geoengineering. (1)While the paragraph does not endorse geoengineering, as had been proposed by Russia, its very presence is ringing alarm bells.
“It’s the paragraph that should never have been,” explained Neth Daño, ETC Group’s Asia Director.” The explicit purpose of Working Group I [WGI] is to report on the latest climate science, not to discuss response measures. The report doesn’t discuss solar power or electric cars; it doesn’t discuss public transport, carbon markets or any other actual or potential policy response to the climate crisis, so why have the authors chosen to devote the concluding paragraph to this highly speculative and dangerous technofix?”
Last week, on the eve of IPCC’s final negotiating meeting, The Guardian (UK) revealed that not only was geoengineering to feature in WGI’s report, but also that one country, Russia, had made a bid for the report’s ‘last word’ to endorse geoengineering as a possible solution. (2) Continue reading
Note: Just as there is no ‘planet B,’ there is no ‘plan B’ when it comes to climate change. Industrialized nations, especially the US, need to drastically decrease their energy and resource consumption as quickly as possible. Relying on unproven geoengineering technologies that tinker with the earth’s delicate climate and weather patterns is a dangerous mistake that we can’t afford to make.
Geoengineering will not solve the climate crisis, or the underlying problems of colonialism, environmental racism and economic domination. It will, however, ensure that power remains in the hands of the 1%, who want the free market to control everything…even the weather.
-The GJEP Team
By Martin Lukacs, Suzanne Goldenberg and Adam Vaughan, September 19, 2013. Source: The Guardian
Documents seen by the Guardian show Russia is asking for a conclusion of the report to recommend geoengineering. Photo: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Russia is pushing for next week’s landmark UN climate science report to include support for controversial technologies to geoengineer the planet’s climate, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
As climate scientists prepare to gather for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Stockholm to present the most authoritative state of climate science to date, it has emerged the Russian government is asking for “planet hacking” to be included in the report. The IPCC has not included geoengineering in its major assessments before.
The documents seen by the Guardian show Russia is asking for a conclusion of the report to say that a “possible solution of this [climate change] problem can be found in using of [sic] geoengineering methods to stabilise current climate.” Russia also highlighted that its scientists are developing geoengineering technologies.
Geoengineering aims to cool the Earth by methods including spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, or fertilising the oceans with iron to create carbon-capturing algal blooms.
Note: Almuth Ernsting is a good friend and colleague of Global Justice Ecology Project. A frenzied embrace of an unproven technology like biochar could lead to increased land grabbing and plantations of fast growing, genetically engineered trees, with dubious, if not harmful, impacts on the global climate.
-The GJEP Team
By Almuth Ernsting, July 23, 2013. Source: The Ecologist
Back in 2009, I discussed the claims that incorporating biochar in soils could help mitigate climate change in anEcologist article. At the time, biochar was included in a draft UN climate agreement: biochar carbon offsets were proposed and proponents were speaking about thepotential for sequestering billions of tonnes of carbonfrom the atmosphere every year through biochar.
The term biochar is generally used for charcoal added to soils. It can be made from any type of biomass. A widely promoted idea is for biochar to be produced in modern pyrolysis plants which also generate heat and electricity. However, such systems are not technically proven at a commercial scale. Virtually all biochar sold at present – commonly with promises of soil improvement as well as climate benefits – and most of the biochar used in scientific studies, has been produced through traditional charcoal making methods. Different types of biochar have very different chemical structures and properties, depending on how they were produced, at which temperatures, from which type of biomass, and how they were cooled and handled.
In my previous article, I highlighted the lack of scientific field studies to show whether or not the basic claims made by biochar proponents were valid, i.e. the claims that biochar will sequester carbon over long periods while benefitting crop yields at the same time. I cited adeclaration signed by 150 organisations worldwide which described biochar as “a new big threat to people, land, and ecosystems” and warned that carbon credits for biochar could trigger a new wave of land-grabbing for monoculture plantations.
Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Greenwashing, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, False Solutions to Climate Change, Land Grabs, Geoengineering, Forests
Note: South Carolina-based ArborGen has a request pending with the USDA to commercialize genetically engineered (GE) eucalyuptus, with plans to sell millions of trees for planting in monoculture plantations from South Carolina to Texas. With loony proposals like BECCS gathering steam and corporate backing, it’s even more crucial that we stop GE trees like ArborGen’s flammable and invasive GE eucalyptus.
Take action today by signing Global Justice Ecology Project’s petition demanding a ban on the release of Genetically Engineered trees into the environment: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php
-The GJEP Team
By Almuth Ernsting, June 11, 2013. Source: Hands Off Mother Earth
Amongst geoengineering methods, ‘afforestation’, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and biochar are commonly promoted as ‘safe’, benign’ or ‘soft’ options – unlike, say, shooting sulphur particles into the stratosphere.
According to a 2011 report by the International Panel on Climate Change, “combining biomass conversion with developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) could lead to long-term substantial removal of GHGs from the atmosphere (also referred to as negative emissions).” And the UK’sRoyal Society report on geoengineering in 2009 concluded that ‘afforestation, BECCS and biochar all scored high on safety – though not on effectiveness, timeliness and (except for ‘afforestation’) affordability.
All of those methods would require land conversions on a vast scale. The experience with biofuels has shown that there are no mechanisms to prevent the development of a big new market for biomass from leading to large-scale deforestation, land-grabbing, human rights abuses and hunger (as land previously used to grow food is turned over to biofuel crops and trees). Yet despite their massive impacts, biofuels still only supply 3% of global transport fuel. Any attempt at removing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through charring and/or burying biomass – or burning it and capturing some of the carbon – would have to involve land-conversions on a far bigger scale than has happened for biofuels so far. Concluding that such a mega-project would be ‘safe’ requires a strange definition of ‘safety’. It requires us to ignore the fundamental role of land and how it is used. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Note: Rachel Smolker is co-director of Biofuelwatch, and long time friend and former staff at Global Justice Ecology Project.
–The GJEP Team
By Rachel Smolker, March 22 2013. Source: The Huffington Post
As the realities of global climate change become ever more alarming, advocates of technological approaches to “geoengineer” the planet’s climate are gaining a following.
But the technologies that are promoted — from spraying sulphate particles into the stratosphere, to dumping iron particles into the ocean, to stimulate carbon absorbing plankton, to burning millions of trees and burying the char in soils — are all fraught with clear and obvious risks, and are most likely only going to make matters worse.
Yet zeal for these approaches continues unabated. According to right-wing think tank American Enterprise Institute, geoengineering offers:
“…the marriage of capitalism and climate remediation…What if corporations shoulder more costs and lead the technological charge, all for a huge potential payoff?…Let’s hope we are unleashing enlightened capitalist forces that just might drive the kind of technological innovation necessary to genuinely tackle climate change.”
Forget about cutting emissions: manipulating the atmosphere and biosphere through geoengineering is the only sensible option for business and thus policy makers, they claim. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Geoengineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Tar Sands, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Note: While dive-bombing storms with sea salt might seem harmless at first glance, strategies like this one which seek to engineer weather and climate systems are foolhardy, controversial, and downright dangerous. This fall, international outcry ensued after a rogue would-be geoengineer dumped piles of iron into the Pacific, with the intention of striking it rich through carbon credits issued for carbon sequestration.
For more information on the risks of geoengineering, check out ETC Group and the Hands Off Mother Earth (HOME) campaign.
–The GJEP Team
By Dyna Rochmyaningsih, February 19, 2013. Source: The Guardian
A boy plays in a flooded road in Jakarta. Indonesia has turned to cloud seeding to prevent further flooding. Photo: Enny Nuraheni/Reuters
Indonesia is banking on an unusual strategy to prevent further flooding in its inundated capital Jakarta, and officials claim that they are already seeing positive results.
They are using ‘cloud seeding’ — a weather modification technology often resorted to during drought. The method involves injecting clouds with substances that encourage the formation of ice crystals heavy enough to fall, thereby speeding up the production of rain.
Rain is the last thing that Indonesia needs now, as it has been experiencing heavy rainfall since mid-January.
But Indonesian scientists believe that inducing rains to fall over theocean before the rainclouds reach the city will help prevent further flooding in Jakarta. Continue reading
January 22 2013. Source: ETC Group
Photo: ETC Group
Gaia is complicated. From stratospheric currents to undersea rivers – and from plankton to palm tree emissions and sequestrations – quantifying, qualifying and calibrating planetary systems is at least as challenging as understanding genes or neurons. Despite decades of modeling, we are no more likely to predict next month’s best picnic day than we are to anticipate the proclivities of our DNA or to trace a memory in our cranium. Frustratingly, we have learned to map and manipulate genomes, geographies and memories, but we can’t control the consequences. Continue reading
Note: Dangerous false solutions like geoengineering pose a massive risk to the planet. The risks associated with dumping minerals into the ocean – many of which would be unknown and untested – far outweigh the benefits. And considering this proposed technique would only require a 10 percent reduction in carbon in the atmosphere, and wouldn’t account for all the emissions used to create the needed materials, it hardly seems worth exploring.
-The GJEP Team
By Damian Carrington, January 22, 2013. Source: The Guardian
Adding more silicate through mineral dust would alter the species of plankton that grows in the seas, the research shows. Photo: Wim van Egmond/Corbis
Sprinkling billions of tonnes of mineral dust across the oceans could quickly remove a vast quantities of climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a new study.
The proposed “geoengineering” technique would also offset the acidification of the oceans and could be targeted at endangered coral reefs, but it would require a mining effort on the same scale as the world’s coal industry and would alter the biology of the oceans.
“It certainly is not a simple solution against the global warming problem,” said Peter Köhler, at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, who led the study. It would require 100 large ships operating all year to distribute 1bn tonnes of the mineral olivine, although it might be possible to use the ballast water in existing shipping instead.