Civil Society says “No” to geo-engineers hacking the planet

Over 80 Civil society groups from around the world have condemned plans being put to climate scientists meeting in Copenhagen regarding geo-engineering the earth as a fix for climate change. The ETC group based in North America has released a statement initiated at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil in January 2009.

The group alledges that a small group of scientists, using a high-profile platform at a climate-science meeting in Copenhagen, are ratcheting up pressure on governments to support and fund real world geo-engineering experiments, such as the Indian-German project to pour six tons of iron powder into
international Antarctic waters
aiming at favouring the absorption of
CO2 by phytoplankton.

Related: Buying the Right to Pollute (audio from radio mundo) | International Climate Change Congress

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Shock and Thaw? Civil Society says “No” as geo-engineers mount shock bid to hack the planet. Railroading governments into geo-engineering will pit North against South, warn critics

OTTAWA, Canada –More than 80 civil society organizations (CSOs) from 20 countries are sending a sharp message to scientists meeting in Copenhagen today, by releasing a joint statement initiated at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil: “The Better World we seek is not Geo-engineered.” The statement is being released as a small group of scientists, using a high-profile platform at a climate-science meeting in Copenhagen1 , are ratcheting up pressure on governments to support and fund real world geo-engineering experiments.  ETC Group, a Canadian-based international CSO, is releasing the statement, which focuses on ocean fertilization, one of the most controversial geo-engineering technologies. The groups assert that “Ocean fertilization and other unjust and high risk geo-engineering schemes are the wrong answer to the challenge of global climate change.”

“At the Social Forum,” says Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group in Mexico, “everyone was concerned about two ocean fertilization experiments that were about to violate the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s de facto moratorium. One was a joint German/Indian iron dump in the Scotia Sea [codenamed LOHAFEX] and the other is a proposal to spread urea in the Tasman Sea [spearheaded by Ian S.F. Jones, who is participating on the geo-engineering panel in Copenhagen Wednesday morning]. The LOHAFEX initiative was opposed by Germany's Minister of the Environment but went ahead anyway.  The renegade ship [RV Polarstern] is expected to dock in Punta Arena, Chile, on March 17 and the joint statement is open for signatures until that date.”

“The Copenhagen meeting represents a major bid by geo-engineers to move from the fringes of scientific enquiry into the mainstream and thereby to pressure governments to fund their experiments,” adds Diana Bronson from ETC Group's Montreal office. “The scientists are trying to sound reasonable, ” Bronson continues, “by saying that governments must still cut back on GHG emissions and geo-engineering should only be a ‘Plan B.’ However, in Copenhagen, they will insist that the climate is already at the ‘tipping point’ and that governments would be foolhardy not to explore other technological solutions.”

ETC Group, which led the campaign for a moratorium on ocean fertilization at the Biodiversity Convention in Bonn last May, wants that limited geo-engineering moratorium expanded to include any experimentation in the stratosphere, in the ocean, and large-scale biochar experiments as well. Until a couple of years ago, scientists were almost unanimous that such experiments were too dangerous to contemplate. Now, faced with the shock of melting glaciers in Greenland and the Arctic, some argue that governments cannot respond quickly enough to avert disaster.

“We agree that the climate crisis has reached an extraordinarily dangerous moment,” says Maria José Guazzelli of Centro Ecológico, one of the groups that signed the statement in Belém, “but we have seen that governments lack the political will to cut emissions, stop deforestation or to promote the necessary life-style changes when this affects the interests of corporations. Can we really expect the governments that lacked the foresight and courage to address global warming for three decades to collaborate fairly on massively restructuring the planet today?”

“The geo-engineers at the Copenhagen meeting are trying shock therapy,” says Diana Bronson. “Everything is melting, no one's acting, so, they say, scientists must save the day –  thaw and shock – the new shock and awe.  You could say we've just had a very interesting scientific experiment: Scientists presented evidence to the world's governments to see if they were capable of keeping their Kyoto promises to reduce greenhouse gases. The experiment proved that many governments will renege on treaty commitments; will fail to meet their nationally set goals; and will abuse scientific data to fool their citizens. Now, these geo-engineers propose a second experiment: to see if the same governments can safely manage engineering our planet’s climate.  We already know the answer.”

According to Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, the most frightening aspect of geo-engineering is that – unlike global agreements to reduce emissions that require international cooperation – geo-engineers can go it alone. “The dirty little secret in geo-engineering proposals is that a single superpower, a few rogue actors or even a small coalition of the willing can rejig the planet without everybody else's approval. Geo-engineering means that the North – which caused global warming – will be the ones with their finger on the thermostat able to protect themselves. The South – which is already experiencing the worst effects of global warming – will have no control over the thermostat and will be left to fend for themselves.”

Geo-engineering's promise of “quick fix” is an illusion, ETC Group insists. The major geo-engineering proposals being discussed would divert time and money from real solutions that would be more effective and less dangerous. There is no short-cut to cutting back our emissions, protecting our forests and soils and making the lifestyle changes that will require. There is an urgent need to conserve and utilize – in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable way –  the world's biological diversity so that we can adapt to changing climatic conditions. Rather than focus attention on scientific gambles, governments should encourage a diversity of strategies geared to local ecosystems and cultures. “We already have a crisis of poverty and injustice,” Silvia Ribeiro concludes, “and governments must address that problem before we do things that exacerbate the gap between the rich and the already marginalized, while doing further damage the health of the planet.”

ETC Group is also sponsoring a Pie-in-the-Sky Contest for Budding Geo-engineers. The contest is seeking proposals that highlight the perverse nature of geo-engineering and provoke discussions about the attempts underway to intentionally manipulate the earth, oceans and atmosphere to combat the effects of climate change.   Check them out at www.pieintheskycontest.org.

Note: 1. Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions at http://climatecongress.ku.dk/

For more information:

Pat Mooney (Ottawa, Canada) etc@etcgroup.org
Phone: +1 613 241 2267 Cell: +1 613 240 0045

Diana Bronson (Montreal, Canada) diana@etcgroup.org
Phone: +1 514 273 6661; cell 514 629 9236

Silvia Ribeiro (Mexico City) silvia@etcgroup.org
Phone: 011 52 5555 6326 64

Kathy Jo Wetter (Durham, NC, USA) kjo@etcgroup.org
Phone: +1 919 688 7302

 

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This statement was initiated at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil in January 2009.

ETC Group released it on March 10, 2009 on the eve of a geo-engineering panel at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions. The list of organization endorsing this statement includes only those received before March 10. Any additional organizations wishing to sign on should send an email to veronica@etcgroup.org before March 17, 2009.


The better world we seek is not Geo-engineered!
A Civil Society Statement against Ocean Fertilization

Since the World Social Forum last met in Nairobi in January 2007, civil society organizations from around the globe have confronted an alarming new threat to our rights and biodiversity: the threat of unjust and high risk geo-engineering schemes and specifically ocean fertilization. We are facing off against several multimillion-dollar private and government-backed projects that aim to re-engineer our climate and oceans. We will soon face other attempts to intentionally alter our soils, deserts and other ecosystems on a large scale in the name of climate protection and profit-making, including the lucrative carbon trade.

In June 2007, we learned that Planktos Corporation of USA was planning to dump iron in the oceans west of the Galapagos Islands in order to fertilize the sea to spur the growth of plankton blooms. Concerted civil society action prevented this dump and forced Planktos out of business. In November 2007 we learned that another ocean fertilization outfit, Ocean Nourishment Corporation of Australia, was intending to dump hundreds of tons of industrially produced urea in the Sulu Sea in the Southern Philippines. Once again concerted action by hundreds of civil society groups put a stop to that dangerous experiment. Even as some of us meet in Belém, a German-Indian expedition, codenamed LOHAFEX, is dumping iron sulphate over 300 square kilometres of water in the Scotia Sea. LOHAFEX is flouting an international moratorium on such experiments and acting against the wishes of the German Environment Minister. We have also learned that geo-engineers closely linked to Ocean Nourishment Corporation will be trying again to dump urea – this time in the Tasman Sea near Australia – in early March and that Climos, Inc. of the USA are in the planning stages of another dump.

We, the undersigned are opposed to the LOHAFEX experiment currently taking place in the Scotia Sea and all other ocean fertilization schemes. We call on the world's governments and civil society:

•    To strengthen the global moratorium on ocean fertilization agreed to at the 2008 meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity to ensure that LOHAFEX will be the last ocean fertilization experiment that goes ahead.

•    To oppose ocean fertilization and other high-risk geo-engineering schemes as potentially devastating to people and ecosystems and the wrong answer to climate change.

•    To oppose the geo-engineers who want to turn our oceans into a vast, open-air experiment and the carbon credit profiteers who support this for the purpose of carbon-trading.

We remind geo-engineers and their backers that not only is our world not for sale – it is not for them to tinker with either.

The fundamental solutions to the climate crisis lie in the protection and stewardship of our forests, oceans and soils, respect for the rights and practices of indigenous peoples, small farmers and forest peoples, and putting an end to all forms of over-consumption. The way forward lies in choosing truly renewable, equitable and non-exploitative forms of energy and other climate change responses that do not involve risky techno-fixes and carbon trading. Ocean fertilization and other unjust and high risk geo-engineering schemes are the wrong answer to the challenge of global climate change.

The better world we seek is not geo-engineered!

  • ABA Agroecología - Brazil
  • Acción por la Biodiversidad - Argentina
  • African Center for Biosafety - South Africa
  • Asociación Amigos Museu do Morajó - Brazil
  • Biofuelwatch - UK
  • BUKO Agrar Koordination - Germany
  • CAA/NK - Brazil
  • CABIO UFV - Brazil
  • Carbon Trade Watch - UK
  • Casifop – Centro de Análisis Social - Mexico
  • Centro Ecológico Ipé - Brazil
  • CEPEDES - Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas para o Desenvolvimento - Brazil
  • CESTA -Amigos de la Tierra el Salvador - El Salvador
  • CEUTA –Centro Uruguayo Tecnologias Apropiadas - Uruguay
  • Climate Justice in Copenhagen - Denmark
  • COECOCEIBA -Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica - Costa Rica
  • Colectivo "La Rueda" - Bolivia
  • Comunidad de Estudios Jaina - Bolivia
  • Consumers Association of Penang, Malaysia - Malaysia
  • Delhi Platform on Climate Change - India
  • Ecological Internet - USA
  • Ecologistas en Acción - Spain
  • Edmonds Institute - USA
  • ESPLAR –Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria - Brasil
  • ETC Group - International
  • FASE / Articulacao Nacional de Agroecologia - Brazil
  • FETAGRI-Povep - Brazil
  • Forum Brasileiro de Seguranza Alimentaria e Nutricional - Brazil
  • Forum Ecosol - Brazil
  • Friends of the Earth Australia - Australia
  • Friends of the Earth Germany - Germany
  • Friends of the Earth Malaysia - Malaysia
  • Friends of the Earth Nigeria Oriental - Nigeria
  • Friends of the Earth Spain - Spain
  • Friends of the Earth US - USA
  • Fundación Eco Urbano - Argentina
  • Fundacion M'Biguá, Ciudadanía y Justicia Ambiental - Argentina
  • Fundación Proyectos Ambientales "PROA" - Argentina
  • Global Coral Reef Alliance - USA
  • Global Justice Ecology Project - USA
  • GRAIN - International
  • Grupo de Estudios Ambientales, AC - Mexico
  • Grupo Semillas - Colombia
  • Guerreros Verdes AC - Mexico
  • ICTA –Int’l Center for Technology Assessment - USA
  • INPA –Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia - Brasil
  • Institut e Laburo - Guyana
  • Institute for Security Studies - South Africa
  • Movimiento de Agricultura Orgánica Costarricense - Costa Rica
  • Movimiento de Salud de los Pueblos/ Latinoamerica - Nicaragua
  • Navdanya / Research Foundation for Science, - India
  • Oil Watch/Acción Ecológica - Ecuador
  • People’s Health Organization - South Africa
  • Programa Chile Sustentable - Chile
  • Recid –Rede Cidadá - Brasil
  • Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad - Costa Rica
  • Rede FALZ - Brasil
  • REDES-Amigos de la Tierra - Uruguay
  • Referentin für Biodiversität - Germany
  • Regional Latinoamerica Unión Internal. Trabajadores Agrícolas y otros  - Brazil
  • Rettet den Regenwald e.V. - Germany
  • Rising Tide North America (RTNA) - USA/Canada
  • SASOP/Articulacao Nacional de Agroecologia - Brasil
  • Schützt die Allmende! - Germany
  • SEAP –Secretaria Especial de Acuicultura e Pesa - Brasil
  • Searice - Philipines
  • Seeds Action Network - Germany
  • Sherpa - France
  • SUFO-Foro Social y Ecología de Suiza Oriental - Suiza
  • Sustainable Energy Economy Network - USA
  • Taller Ecologista Argentina - Argentina
  • Technology and Ecology - India
  • The Cornerhouse - UK
  • The GAIA Foundation - UK
  • Third World Network - Malaysia
  • Tierra Viva Red Bolivia Libre de Transgénicos - Bolivia
  • Timberwatch Coalition - South Africa
  • TNI - Netherlands
  • Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team - Thailand
  • Unidad Ecológica  Salvadoreña UNES - El Salvador
  • Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juarez de Oaxaca - Mexico
  • USP-POLI - Brazil
  • World Hunger Year - USA
  • World Rainforest Movement - International