(Bloomberg) -- The European Union will join an international effort to assess whether large-scale interventions such as deflecting the sun’s rays or changing the Earth’s weather patterns are viable options for fighting climate change.
The bloc will announce a framework Wednesday for assessing the security implications of a rapidly warming planet, such as the potential for scarce water or food to trigger conflict and migration, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. Part of that assessment includes studying the potential dangers of re-engineering the atmosphere.
“These technologies introduce new risks to people and ecosystems, while they could also increase power imbalances between nations, spark conflicts and raises a myriad of ethical, legal, governance and political issues,” according to the document, which is subject to change.
Embarking on this research pushes the EU into the debate over whether so-called climate geoengineering is good science or just a science-fiction distraction with potentially dangerous implications for the planet and its atmosphere. The bloc would like to see international discussions on creating rules for the fledgling sector.
“The EU will support international efforts to assess comprehensively the risks and uncertainties of climate interventions, including solar radiation modification,” according to the document.
Such large-scale interventions have emerged alongside scientific advances and growing concern that nations will overshoot their target to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F). The potential options include stratospheric aerosol injection, which involves increasing the concentration of particles in the atmosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface.
Critics say such efforts, at best, distract attention from addressing the primary trigger of global warming: rising emissions. At worst, these massive interventions may have unforeseen side effects, such as altering vital rain patterns, they warn.
Some scientists have called for an international non-use agreement on such solutions.
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