Why U.S. thwarted UN plan to study geoengineering

Mar 20, 2019, 7:35 AM EDT
(Source: William Murphy/flickr)
(Source: William Murphy/flickr)

Last Wednesday, a coalition of the U.S., Brazil, and Saudi Arabia blocked a resolution at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. The proposal sought “an assessment of the status of geoengineering technologies,” which is an umbrella term for tinkering with Earth’s atmosphere by approaches such as Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM) to tackle climate change.

Reportedly, the U.S. torpedoed the resolution for two reasons. It sees carbon removal part of geoengineering as a substitute to emissions reductions, something the resolution’s language denied explicitly, notes Earther. The U.S. aversion toward the proposal also stemmed from its concern that the assessment could set the stage for policies and regulations, which may obstruct unfettered research and development of carbon dioxide removal techniques.

But, there could be more than meets the eye in this derailment. Observers point out that an assessment of geoengineering would have been, in a way, a reiteration of the gravity of climate change and, hence, fossil fuel interests came into play to block the proposal, Motherboard.