MPs call for early action on geoengineering regulation

18 March 2010

Arrangements for the regulation of geoengineering must not be left until highly disruptive climate change is underway, warns the Science and Technology Committee in a report published today.

Serious consideration for regulation should start now and the Committee urges the UK and other governments to 'prime the UN pump' in order to ensure the best chance of eventual multilateral agreement to a UN-operated regulatory framework.

The Committee outlines three reasons why regulation is needed;

  • Future geoengineering techniques may allow a single country unilaterally to affect the climate of the Earth
  • Small-scale geoengineering testing is already underway
  • Geoengineering as a 'Plan B' may be required if 'Plan A' - the reduction of greenhouse gases - fails

Starting work now provides the opportunity to explore fully the technological, environmental, political and regulatory issues.

The Committee recommends the grading of geoengineering techniques and that regulatory regimes should then be tailored accordingly, with controls based on a set of widely-agreed principles.

The inquiry was part of a unique collaboration with the US House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee. In its report the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee commends to its successor committee international collaboration as an innovative way to meet future global challenges.

The Chairman of the Committee, Phil Willis MP, commented:

"Geoengineering could affect the entire planet and it would be foolish to ignore its potential to minimise or reverse human caused climate change. There is no sound reason not to begin the groundwork for regulatory arrangements immediately. I particularly welcome the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative that the Royal Society announced today.

"We hope that our work with the US House Committee will set in train greater collaboration between parliamentary committees in the future. We found it to be constructive, rewarding and, we hope, successful."

Image: iStockphoto

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