geoengineering

Labor Helps Obama Energy Secretary Push and Profit from 'Net Zero' Fossil Fuels

Read time: 16 mins
President Obama and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Progressive activists have called for a Green New Deal, a linking of the U.S. climate and labor movements to create an equitable and decarbonized economy and move away from fossil fuels to address the climate crisis. But major labor unions and President Barack Obama’s Energy Secretary have far different plans.

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the AFL-CIO and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) — a nonprofit founded and run by former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — launched the Labor Energy Partnership. Unlike those calling for a Green New Deal, though, this alliance supports increased fracking for oil and gas, as well as other controversial technologies that critics say prop up fossil fuels. It's also an agenda matching a number of the former Energy Secretary's personal financial investments.

Delayed Senate Energy Bill Promotes LNG Exports, 'Clean Coal' and Geoengineering

Read time: 7 mins
Kemper County coal plant under construction in 2013

The huge bipartisan energy bill currently stalled in the Senate would fast-track exports of fracked gas, offer over a billion dollars in subsidies to “clean coal” efforts and make available hundreds of millions in tax dollars for a geoengineering pilot project.

Are ISO's Draft Guidelines on Climate Action the First Steps Toward Geoengineering?

Read time: 5 mins
Sunset

In August, the French news service AFP revealed that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been drafting new climate action guidelines for businesses that raise concerns about promoting geoengineering as a climate solution. 

The ISO is an industry-driven  non-governmental organization that sets international standards for products, services, and systems, giving it a powerful voice in the global business community.

With these draft ISO guidelines, which DeSmog has obtained, the ISO appears poised to provide voluntary and market-based standards to address climate change that differ in a key way from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement. Instead of focusing on limiting global temperature rise, these guidelines argue for using radiative forcing, or the total excess heat warming Earth's atmosphere, as the metric.

Op-ed: Geoengineering Distracts From Real Climate Solutions While Giving Cover to the Fossil Fuel Industry

Read time: 9 mins
3D rendering of Earth from space

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  

In 2019, I think it's safe to say that humans are capable of wreaking great and terrible changes upon Earth's systems. To name a few: acid rain, deforestation, and climate change. Reversing such problems is, on its face, quite simple. Stop releasing smog-forming pollution. Stop cutting down forests. Stop burning fossil fuels.

In some cases, humanity has risen to these challenges, and for example, greatly reduced acid rain in North America since the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. But when it comes to climate change, there's a growing chorus, often bolstered by the fossil fuel industry, who support a controversial set of approaches to mitigating global warming, not by directly addressing the primary source of the problem — continuing to combust great volumes of oil, gas, and coal — but by further inducing massive changes to planetary systems.

I'm talking about geoengineering, and specifically solar geoengineering, which seeks to lessen global warming's greenhouse effect by reflecting sunlight, and heat, back out to space.

US and Saudi Arabia Block UN Efforts at Climate Geoengineering Governance

Read time: 4 mins
UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya

This is a guest post by Linda Schneider of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this week, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a push to gather information on potentially regulating climate geoengineering technologies. Switzerland, along with 11 other countries, including Micronesia, Senegal, and New Zealand, had submitted a draft resolution mandating a report on the state of research, risks, and possible governance options related to geoengineering efforts.

New Report Warns Geoengineering the Climate Is a 'Risky Distraction'

Read time: 7 mins
view of Earth from space

A new report makes the case that the fossil fuel industry prefers geoengineering as an approach for addressing climate change because it allows the industry to keep arguing for continued fossil fuel use.

In Fuel to the Fire: How Geoengineering Threatens to Entrench Fossil Fuels and Accelerate the Climate Crisis, the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL) warns that geoengineering, which includes technologies to remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide and to shoot particles into the atmosphere to block sunlight, potentially offers more of a problem for the climate than a solution.

Warning of Solar Geoengineering's Dangers, Group Recommends a Global Ban

Read time: 7 mins
Partial solar eclipse

A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming. 

These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called “sun dimming.” 

However, less than two weeks after the announcement, the climate science and policy institute Climate Analytics took aim at these ambitions in a new briefing titled ”Why geoengineering is not a solution to the climate problem,” which goes as far as recommending a global ban on solar geoengineering.

Climate Denier Lamar Smith Holds Rare Congressional Hearing on Geoengineering

Read time: 5 mins
Rep. Lamar Smith

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential technofix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.  

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on November 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 

Ironically, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith — a climate science denier who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from ExxonMobil throughout his political career. In fact, Smith actually mentioned “climate change” in his opening remarks for the hearing, in discussing his interest in geoengineering.

Is Deploying Biochar as a Climate Geoengineering Tool Scientifically Premature?

Some of biochar's proponents say the substance will save us from climate change destruction, as we covered in Part 1.

At the very least, its proponents say it has great potential to simultaneously improve agricultural yields, produce clean energy, and mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon. Its most enthusiastic supporters have hailed it as “black gold.” 

But scientists call biochar a false climate change solution, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Read time: 18 mins

Biochar Lobby's Protocol Receives Blistering Peer Review, Casts Doubts on Serving as Climate Solution

For biochar's fiercest promoters, the sky's the limit for the seemingly mystical product — or at least that's been the pitch for years, ever since TIME Magazine referred to it as “black gold” in a December 2008 feature story. To some, it could do it all: pull carbon out of the atmosphere, enrich the soil, and be refined into a clean and green fuel source.

Yet a peer-reviewed study conducted by the American Carbon Registry (ACR) analyzing the science bolstering the biochar lobby's business plan calls all of these claims into question. Released in March 2015, the review concluded that “the scientific literature does not provide sufficient evidence of the stability of soil carbon sequestration in fields.”

Read time: 12 mins

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