Regulating Risky Marine Geoengineering Techniques

Regulating Risky Marine Geoengineering Techniques

Marine Geoengineering

Both the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Center for International Environmental Law have praised a statement that states the intention to regulate four dangerous marine geoengineering technologies. Announcing their intention to regulate four techniques that could have “harmful impacts that are widespread, protracted or extreme” in an announcement made during the first week of October, the Parties of the London Convention and Protocol, international agreements overseeing the disposal of waste and other materials in the sea, were united. Some examples of these methods are marine cloud brightening, ocean alkalinity enhancement, ocean liming, and ocean fertilization. The increased attention and dedication to reducing environmental risks and protecting marine ecosystems for future generations is evident in the worldwide effort to regulate such practices.

Techniques for Geoengineering at Sea

The methods of marine geoengineering that are discussed in the statement include increasing ocean alkalinity and growing biomass to remove carbon dioxide, as well as modifying solar radiation to brighten clouds and increase surface albedo using reflective particles and other materials. Like the current regulations on ocean fertilization, which prohibit the practice except in very specific cases of legitimate scientific research, these technologies may one day be regulated in a similar fashion. Finding the ethical limits and parameters of these geoengineering techniques would necessitate tight cooperation among international organizations, legislators, and scientific communities in order to incorporate such regulations. In doing so, we can lessen the likelihood of negative ecological and socioeconomic impacts on the marine environment while still making use of these technologies’ promise to reduce the effects of climate change.

Approval of Statements and Meetings

Meetings of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Headquarters held from October 2-6, 2023, approved the statement. These meetings were the 45th Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties of the London Convention and the 18th Meeting of Contracting Parties of the London Protocol (LC 45/LP 18). At the meeting, delegates from different countries worked together to solve pressing issues like ocean pollution and how to use the seas sustainably. Important standards and plans of action to reduce environmental risks and increase maritime safety and security were developed at the conference.

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Declaration on Marine Geoengineering and Its Importance

Several factors make the marine geoengineering statement noteworthy: Because marine geoengineering can help find long-term solutions to improving ocean health and lowering carbon emissions, it first shows how crucial research and innovation are in the fight against climate change. In order to advance marine geoengineering efforts, the statement stresses the second point: that different stakeholders, such as governments, researchers, and industries, must work together to establish a framework that is inclusive, thorough, and accountable.

Global Backing and Issues

A growing number of governments are showing their concern and urgency by endorsing the recommendations made by the Scientific Groups of the London Convention and Protocol. This is particularly true for the nations that are being targeted for marine geoengineering outdoor trials, which are part of commercial activities involving the sale of carbon credits. This mutual worry reflects a maturing awareness of the dangers of marine geoengineering and the necessity of international collaboration to counteract them. In addition, it stresses the need of safeguarding marine ecosystems and allocating carbon credits responsibly by establishing thorough rules and regulations for such operations.

Relevance to United Nations Agencies and Meetings

This declaration sends a clear message to other United Nations bodies and forums that are debating or considering marine geoengineering or “carbon removal” credits from such projects. This encompasses a number of international organizations and treaties, such as the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement (which includes talks on a new global carbon market/Article 6), the CBD, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (BBNJ Agreement) regarding the protection and responsible use of marine biodiversity in regions beyond national jurisdiction, the UNEP, and the UNA. These United Nations agencies must cooperate to formulate consistent policies that weigh the pros and cons of marine geoengineering as debates over the practice gather steam around the world. In order to ensure that marine geoengineering efforts are thoroughly evaluated, tracked, and controlled to avoid any negative effects on marine ecosystems and biodiversity, these institutions can pave the way for more sustainable global climate action by accepting and acting upon the statement’s cautions.

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Organizational Statements

The director of CIEL’s fossil economy program, Lili Fuhr, expressed her satisfaction with the London Protocol and Convention’s strong statement emphasizing the need to protect marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them. We need governments to step in and put a stop to marine geoengineering and commercial ocean carbon removal projects because their popularity is on the rise. Both the climate and all life on Earth depend on healthy ocean ecosystems. The elimination of fossil fuels and the preservation of the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth are imperative, and we must not waste time and resources on hypothetical, risky technologies or on bandwagon solutions like carbon offsets. Fuhr stresses that protecting marine environments and finding long-term solutions should take precedence over quick fixes that could be harmful. Furthermore, she urges governments around the globe to shift their attention from fossil fuels to renewable energy in order to combat climate change.

This statement sends a clear message to the upcoming climate negotiations at COP28 in Dubai to prohibit the use of marine geoengineering for carbon offset credits,” stated Linda Schneider, Senior Programme Officer at the Heinrich Boell Foundation. The fossil fuel industry and other polluting industries would find a huge and potentially dangerous loophole in marine geoengineering offsets. Endorsing dubious’removal’ credits connected to hypothetical marine geoengineering will only make matters worse, especially since the majority of carbon offsets have already failed to mitigate climate change. Schneider’s comments show how environmentalists are becoming more worried about the risks of using geoengineering techniques that have not been proven. They stress that instead of trying out new things that might make things worse, we should put our energy into finding real ways to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

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What marine geoengineering methods are included in the statement?

Four marine geoengineering technologies are addressed in the statement: Ocean fertilization, ocean liming, ocean alkalinity enhancement, and marine cloud brightening.

What is the significance of the marine geoengineering statement?

The statement demonstrates the international community’s commitment to addressing the potential risks of marine geoengineering methods and focuses on implementing guidelines and regulations to minimize their adverse effects on marine ecosystems.

How does the statement impact discussions within UN organizations and forums?

The statement sends a clear message to UN organizations and forums, including the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, BBNJ Agreement, UNEP, and UNEA, to work together in developing coherent policies and a proper regulatory framework for marine geoengineering activities to prevent harmful impacts on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

What is the general consensus among international governments on marine geoengineering regulations?

With support from 101 governments for the recommendations of the Scientific Groups of the London Convention and Protocol, there is a growing sense of urgency and concern over the potential risks associated with marine geoengineering technologies, emphasizing the need for cooperation to address these challenges on a global scale.

What are the opinions of organizations like the Center for International Environmental Law and the Heinrich Böll Foundation on marine geoengineering?

Both organizations advocate for a focus on sustainable, proven solutions and the protection of marine environments rather than pursuing untested and speculative geoengineering methods. They call for governments worldwide to take action and focus on transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to address climate change.


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