Our position on geoengineering

Based on our best understanding on the current science of geoengineering, EDF believes that:

  • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases as rapidly as possible is essential to addressing the climate challenge facing humanity.
  • Deliberate climate interventions such as albedo modification should not be undertaken for the foreseeable future as they present serious ecological, moral and geopolitical concerns.
  • Engaging in transparent small-scale field research to further our understanding of the climate system and the implications of any albedo modification proposals is prudent and governance regimes should be established in parallel with the very first experiments.
  • Research on development of carbon dioxide removal techniques and their impacts should also be undertaken.

What environmental advocates are saying

EDF has played an early role in the NGO community in promoting governance of climate engineering research. Increasing numbers of environmental NGOs have joined us in this effort, and some of them have endorsed small-scale research. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) stated its support for a U.S. government-led SRM research program, but called for guidance on governance before scaling up.

Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a statement endorsing small-scale research and World Wildlife Fund-UK is also "cautiously supporting" it. Most other large environmental NGOs have taken mixed and sometimes internally inconsistent positions on small-scale outdoor SRM research.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) International and FoE-U.S. oppose outdoor research, while FoE-UK has taken a different position. At the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Greenpeace International proposed language to ban all geoengineering activities but Greenpeace-UK representatives have not taken the same approach in discussions in the UK.

The most vehement opposition to research has come from The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), which has rallied dozens of primarily small NGOs to its "Hands Off Mother Earth" campaign and recently launched a website "to provide a space for critical perspectives, building resistance and tracking developments." ETC has repeatedly lobbied at the CBD for a complete moratorium on outdoor geoengineering research.

At the other side of the spectrum, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group urges deployment of geoengineering technologies as soon as possible to "refreeze the Arctic," halt snow and sea ice decline and prevent rising methane emissions from becoming a dominant climate forcing agent.