April 01, 2021

Saami, Swedes and civil society stop solar geoengineering trial balloon

ETC Group welcomes the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)’s decision to stop the solar geoengineering balloon test flight
Researcher untangles a orange and white scientific balloon in a field from 2017

April 2, 2020 -- ETC Group welcomes the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)’s decision to stop the solar geoengineering balloon test flight for the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx)  in response to strong opposition from the Saami Council, swedish civil society and researchers.

Speaking about the SCoPEx research Åsa Larsson-Blind, the Saami Council’s Swedish vice-president explains “Solar geoengineering violates the worldview of the Saami people, and goes against the urgent action we need to transform to zero-carbon societies that are in harmony with nature. We welcome SSC’s decision to stop the balloon flight planned for Saami lands in Kiruna, but the existential risks of this geoengineering technology disqualify it from ever being advanced – whether here or elsewhere. The false argument that this treacherous technology could be a ‘Plan B’ is deeply dangerous. There is no safe or responsible way to deploy solar geoengineering technologies. There would be inherently dangerous and unpredictable knock-on effects with likely extremely dangerous consequences for people and ecosystems around the world.” 

Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network and ETC Board member further comments that “as an international Indigenous organization, we support the decision by the Swedish Space Corporation to suspend all equipment test flights of this proposed SCoPEx project in Sweden. As we reached out to our Saami Indigenous friends in Sweden, they said that they were not informed by the Space corporation, the government of Sweden or anyone else on this solar geoengineering experiment that would blanket the stratosphere with particles that could have negative effect on not only the reindeer culture of the Saami peoples, but the whole world. 

This technology is not a solution for mitigating climate change. It has too many risks that will violate the rights of the Saami Indigenous peoples and the delicate balance of the natural laws of Mother Earth and Father Sky.” he added. 

Modelling shows that deployment of solar geoengineering could cause droughts in Africa and Asia, disrupt the monsoon and endanger the source of food and water for two billion people. 

“This is at least the third time that SCOPEX has been halted on Indigenous territory. First in New Mexico, then Arizona and now Sweden. Other geoengineering schemes on Indigenous homelands in the Arctic and around the Pacific Rim have also met clear opposition,” explains Jim Thomas, Research Director at ETC Group.

“Each time geoengineers promise to ‘consult’ better, deliberately missing the point that consultation does not equal consent. When communities and Indigenous people say no to planet-altering schemes being launched from their territories it is disrespectful to mishear that as 'needing more consultation'. No means no. Hands Off Mother Earth,” added Thomas.

The climate crisis is grave, but there is no justification to pursue further research into unsafe technologies that would disrupt the climate in ways that could be as dangerous or worse than the effects of climate change.

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