Last week, delegates from 193 nations agreed to a moratorium on geoengineering at the tenth conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan. Specifically, the parties agreed that all parties should:
Ensure . . . , in the absence of science based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, . . . that no climate-related geo-engineering activities that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting . . . and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment;
Geoengineering is potentially dangerous—but so is climate change. Banning research in the field could deprive humanity of a last-ditch weapon should global warming spin out of control. And we’ll never know how effective geoengineering could be—or how risky—unless scientists are allowed to do their work. That work will continue—the stakes are simply too high—and it’s better that the research is done above ground, socially-sanctioned, than driven into the black.