Following in the footsteps of the US Congress and UK Parliament, the German Bundestag (lower house) has initiated an inquiry into geoengineering, led by the Committee on Education, Research, and Technology Assessment. Last week, as part of this inquiry, members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) submitted a short statement and a long list of questions about geoengineering directed to the federal government. In their statement, SPD members frame the geoengineering debate in Germany in terms of two prominent government reports from 2011, a relatively friendly report published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and a more hostile report published by the Federal Environment Agency (for more, see Two New German Government Reports, 12/19/11). SPD parliamentarians side firmly with the second, more critical report, declaring "This faction of the SPD supports this view" (p. 1, English translation).
This is not surprising, given the SPD's left-of-center orientation and affinities with the Greens. What is surprising, however, is the breadth and seeming reasonableness of the questions they submit. There are 56 questions in total ranging in topic from definitional issues, risk assessments, and current research, to patents, moratoriums, and the recent SPICE debacle (see SPICE Field Test Cancelled, 5/17). The government is even asked to offer its views concerning a UNESCO policy brief released at last year's Durban conference (see Post-Durban Wrap-Up, 12/14/11). None of this is to suggest that the SPD is warming to the idea of geoengineering. Rather, it suggests that opposition to geoengineering may not be as reflexive and unconsidered as it often appears, civil discussion is possible, and the potential may exist for persuasion achieved via rational discourse.