Last week, the American Geophysical Union released a revised position statement on climate intervention. We were grateful to see that the AGU has moved toward supporting geoengineering research. As the AGU document states:
AGU urges national funding agencies to create substantial research programs on AM [albedo modification] and to embed them, where appropriate, in existing larger programs on climate science… [R]esearch, if conducted openly with introspection and self-scrutiny as befits the global scientific community, could help diffuse information widely and also help facilitate the development of appropriate international norms about testing and evaluation of AM systems.
We applaud the AGU’s support for national leadership in developing reasonably governed experiments to ensure valuable research and safe use. Further, we support using existing regulatory measures at the national level where they are appropriate. As we discussed earlier in our comments to the AGU draft statement:
Focus first and foremost on domestic governance and federal support; international governance and public support will follow… Setting up a cohesive regulatory structure to govern SRM and geoengineering research domestically with U.S. authority… grounds the international conversation of governance to actionable legislation or agreement, rather than more amorphous calls for ongoing conversations.
The AGU also shares our concern over the paralysis surrounding climate intervention research. Climate change will bring uncertain effects that need to be understood and hedged against, and we have underinvested in knowledge about climate intervention. If we can better characterize the risks and benefits of climate interventions, it will help inform the policymakers of the future.
We at the Niskanen Center are pleased that we contributed to the dialogue and now see a strengthened AGU position on climate intervention.