December 12, 2022, Montreal, Canada – Eighty-three national and international organizations from forty countries have released an open letter calling on the parties to the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (CBD) to say no to geoengineering and yes to protecting biodiversity, the environment, the climate, the rights of Indigenous peoples and the human rights of local communities.
The letter says “The precautionary calls from CBD are as important as ever and even more relevant in light of a growing number of risky geoengineering proposals and attempted / ongoing field experiments that threaten biodiversity, the environment, and the rights, territories and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples and local communities.”
Recently, Australia and the UK have conducted open-air solar and marine geoengineering experiments without reporting these activities to the UN. Experiments were conducted in the ocean near Australia, others have been announced for the Arabian Sea, Hawaii, and India, among other locations.
Indigenous peoples and civil society organizations have blocked some experiments. A Harvard-based solar geoengineering experiment was suspended following Indigenous and civil society protests led by the Saami Council. Another solar geoengineering project led by the US-based Arctic Ice Project has conducted experiments over Indigenous territories in Alaska, which have been opposed by an Alaska native delegation.
In an extremely concerning move, a body of the Paris Agreement on climate change, has proposed several land and marine geoengineering technologies as potential new sources for carbon credits. Strong opposition from civil society at the recent climate COP27 stopped the decision, but the discussion is ongoing. This proposal disregards the precautionary calls from CBD and the fact that the London Convention on ocean dumping is currently evaluating marine geoengineering techniques in light of their potential “adverse impacts on the marine environment”.
In light of the growing number of open-air geoengineering experiments, civil society organizations demand:
- CBD parties must affirm precaution and prevent geoengineering from harming biodiversity, the environment, the climate, the rights of Indigenous peoples and the human rights of local communities and recall past CBD decisions against geoengineering.
- COP15 must ensure that geoengineering (including large scale technological interventions that might be referred to as "Nature Based Solutions") are explicitly excluded from the Global Biodiversity Framework and any other decisions on marine biodiversity and climate at COP15.
- The CBD Secretariat should proactively reach out to all other UN bodies discussing geoengineering to share relevant CBD decisions, highlighting the need for a precautionary approach.
- Parties to the CBD must require countries to report on any geoengineering initiative taken in or by their countries.