Climate Change: Environmental Experts Want Africa to Reject Geoengineering

Environmental experts have called on African governments to reject geoengineering technology at CoP28 to protect local communities against its adverse effects.

The experts from Friends of the Earth Africa and Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Yenegoa, Bayelsa.

Geoengineering refers to a set of emerging technologies that could manipulate the environment and partially offset some of the impacts of climate change.

On Climate Justice, Mr Maimoni Ubrei-Joe, Campaigner with ERA/FoEN and Friends of the Earth Africa, said that geoengineering did not solve climate change.

According to the environmentalist, climate geoengineering is one of the many false solutions that have been proposed to counter the path to a just energy transition.

Geoengineering involves large-scale schemes for intervention in the earth’s oceans, soils, and atmosphere to provide a temporary reduction of the effects of climate change.

According to him, some geoengineering techniques, such as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), seek to alter the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface and could lead to regional climate changes.

“SRM is altering the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface, which could lead to regional climate changes.

“This could result in shifts in precipitation patterns, temperature extremes, and changes in agricultural productivity, which could negatively impact local communities.

“These people rely on stable and predictable climate conditions for farming, water availability, and livelihoods.

“Modifying cloud patterns or introducing reflective particles into the atmosphere may have unintended consequences for local ecosystems.

“Changes in sunlight and temperature regimes could disrupt ecosystems, leading to shifts in species composition, altered migration patterns, and potential biodiversity loss.”

Ubrei-Joe further revealed that Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) required a large-scale implementation of techniques such as afforestation or creating artificial forests, which might require a large expanse of land.

The environmentalist noted that this could create a struggle for land resources by local communities.

“This has the potential of displacing local communities and forcing them to encroach on indigenous territories or disrupt traditional land uses and livelihoods.

“Some CDR methods, like ocean fertilisation, may carry environmental risks.

“For instance, seeding the ocean with iron pellets to stimulate plankton blooms can alter marine ecosystems, affecting fish populations and potentially disrupting local fishing industries or coastal communities dependent on marine resources,” he said.

He explained that Earth Radiation Management, another artificial technique that involved thinning cirrus clouds to allow more heat to escape into space.

Ubrei-Joe said that the method created changes to cloud cover and atmospheric dynamics, which could lead to volatile shifts in local weather patterns.

He said it would make it challenging for communities, especially farmers, to adjust and plan for changes effectively.

The environmentalist explained that Geoengineering projects were often global or national in scale.

He regretted that decision-making processes might not adequately involve or consider the perspectives and concerns of local communities.

According to him, the process undermines social equity and justice, potentially exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities,” he said.

On his part, Chima Williams, Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, said that Geoengineering had enormous human rights impact and implications.

He explained that Solar Radiation Management techniques such as spraying sulfates into the stratosphere or modifying clouds might have unintended and unpleasant consequences.

“It will cause an infringement on the right to health and the water right; while CDR methods, which involve large-scale carbon capture in the atmosphere, also raised human rights concerns about food, livelihood, land, and indigenous rights.’’

He added that the Earth Radiation Management technique was an infringement on the right to self-determination and the right to an adequate standard of living.

Williams called for the reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases, as it was the safest way to rescue the world from the negative impacts of climate change.

He said emissions reduction was the goal every sector must pursue without compromise.

“A search on efforts to address the climate crisis will produce shocking results that show that all sectors, including the most polluting sectors, also claim to be involved in fighting climate change.

“This deception is targeted at dodging the real solutions, which essentially is about cutting emissions to zero by leaving fossil fuel in the soil, coal in the ground, and tar sand in the hole and adopting renewable energy sources,” he said. (NAN)

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