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Published Date: Sep 28, 2011

SDPI- ROYAL SOCIETY UK PRESS (September 28,2011)

Geo-engineering methods can be used to moderate earth temperature, if they prove to be safe and effective, But they are not an alternative to greenhouse gases emission reductions, which should remain the priority policy.

This was discussed by the eminent scientists and experts in a joint consultation session on “Geoengineering the Climate” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and The Royal Society (UK), here on Wednesday. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, Senior Adviser Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Planning Commission of Pakistan chaired the proceedings while Shafqat Kakakhel, Former United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Member Board of Governors, SDPI moderated the event.

Participants were explained that Geoengineering is deliberate large-scale interventions in the earth’s climate system to moderate global warming. The experts highlighted opportunities and serious risks associated with geoengineering and called for further research with careful attention given to the governance of research and possible deployment.

Shafqat Kakakhel, Former United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Member Board of Governors, SDPI introduced the subject and gave background on climate change, global mitigation efforts and understanding for geoengineering. He expressed that the acceptability of geoengineering will be determined by social, legal and political issues as much as by scientific and technical factors.

Giving a detailed presentation, Andrew Parker, Senior Policy Adviser at the Royal Society said that global climate change mitigation efforts have so far failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, geoengineering is the only option to cool the earth temperature. However, he said, the technology to do so is barely formed, and there are major uncertainties regarding its effectiveness, costs, and environmental impacts, and it should be subjected to more detailed research and analysis. He explained two main classes in geoengineering, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). Mr. Parker also presented criteria for evaluation of geoengineering techniques based upon effectiveness, timeliness, safety and cost. He said that with advancement in geoengineering, some experts believe in possibility of regulating and preserving monsoon weather system, which is currently under serious threat from climate change.  He also highlighted the numerous complex ethical, social, environmental and political implications of deliberate climate interventions.

Dr.Ishfaq Ahmad, Adviser Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Planning Commission of Pakistan showed apprehensions and called for detailed study on the geoengineering subject. He said that any experiment and climatic intervention in earth atmosphere must be avoided, unless its safety and effectiveness is scientifically proved and allowed by international community and United Nations. He supported research and development activities on the subject and hoped for advancement in future.

Dr.Arshad Khan, Executive Director, Global Change Impact Study Center (GCISC) talked about local and regional weather modifications and said that global interventions in earth’s atmosphere will have serious affects on regional level.

Naseer Gillani, Chief Environment, Planning Commission of Pakistan proposed that biological engineering can be used to produce plants that can absorb more carbon dioxide and this might help in reduction in carbon concentration.

Munir Shiekh, Head Climatology Section (GCISC) was of the view that proposed technologies caters to only one component in earths eco system and any substantial change in one component can imbalance the whole ecosystem of the world. He argued that if the temperature at oceans in South Asia is lowered by using such techniques, the monsoon rain system can disturb, resulting in widespread catastrophes, agriculture destruction and food and water security.