Saturday, July 6, 2013

Insights Into European Commission Views on Geoengineering

Comments made at the recent "International Governance of Climate Engineering" forum held in Brussels in June shed interesting light on official thinking about geoengineering within the European Commission.  One of the featured speakers at the event was Jacob Werksman,  who serves as Principal Advisor to the Commission's Directorate-General (DG) for Climate Action.  Werksman noted that the Commission itself has no explicit position on geoengineering, and cited two important reasons why.  First, the Commission does not want to undermine or destabilize ongoing negotiations within the UNFCCC by injecting such a charged issue into climate talks.  Second, the Commission is keen to emphasize non-climate benefits of mitigation actions such as improvements in public health and economic competitiveness, and does not want to jeopardize this message with potentially controversial statements or policies on geoengineering.

Werksman also offered his opinion on the preferred institutional setting for international deliberations on climate engineering.  In his view, the CBD has become excessively politicized due to the actions of certain NGOs and developing country members, and in the process has alienated key governments such as the US.  The UNFCCC, rather than the CBD, should coordinate discussions on geoengineering since it has a nearly global membership and a history of constructive institutional flexibility.  The extent to which Werksman's preference is shared by other staff at DG Climate Action is unknown.

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