Good global governance is essential for any climate change mitigation or adaptation strategies to work long-term but untested ‘techno-fixes’ such as geoengineering are not the solution according to a new paper published in the International Journal of Social Quality.

Dr Tim Cadman from Griffith University and Dr Klaus Radunsky (lead author) of Austrian Standards (ASI)[1] say despite increased decarbonisation strategies, it is not likely the Paris Agreement temperature target of 1.5 degrees will be met unless there is increased action to combat climate change.

“This makes a limited deployment of new technologies for carbon dioxide removal a necessity, they should not undermine sustainable development, poverty eradication and food security, and must be properly governed,’’ Dr Radunsky said.

“The challenge, which we explore in our research is what qualifies as legitimate technology to achieve carbon neutrality.”

Dr Tim Cadman

Dr Cadman said many governments had previously sought to reduce climate-change inducing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere through mitigation and adaptation activities with limited success, and were now exploring more radical solutions, including geoengineering.

“The challenge posed by these strategies is that their environmental impacts have not been properly determined so what appears to be a ‘solution’ can rapidly become a problem.”

“This is particularly true of burning forests for power, or injecting the atmosphere with sulphur particles to manage solar radiation.”

“By using ‘techno-fixes’ we can become locked into such technologies, and if we subsequently abandon them, it may be too late to combat climate change,’’ Dr Radunsky said.

Dr Klaus Radunsky

Dr Klaus Radunsky

“The only true action on climate is mitigating (stopping) emissions and where this is not possible, the reliable, safe and environmentally benign removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.”

The authors conclude that countries, organisations, cities, regions and citizens must speed up ‘decarbonisation’ of their economies and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

“Failure to do so, notably between the main emitting countries such as the US and China, will quickly translate into a significant increase of climate change and many more people will suffer than are already affected,’’ Dr Radunsky said.

“In order to conserve human society and biodiversity, an unbiased and knowledge-driven assessment of the risks posed by engineering the climate, as well as robust governance systems, are required.”

[1] Chair of the “mirror committee” at Austrian Standards (ASI) to the International Organization for Standardization’s working group on greenhouse gas monitoring and management (ISO/TC 207/SC 7).