The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has announced official government support for research into climate engineering. In a new internet posting, DECC states,
Should the need ever arise to deploy geo-engineering techniques in the future, a thorough understanding of all the options available to counteract dangerous climate change and knowledge of their risks and benefits will be needed. This understanding can only be developed through relevant, careful and responsible multi-disciplinary research. The Government is supportive of the need to undertake such studies, in accordance with Decision X/33 and Article 14 of the CBD and relevant agreements such as the London Convention and its Protocol.
(CBD Decision X/33 refers to the limited, conditional moratorium adopted in 2010--see The Meaning of the Moratorium, 10/31/10--and Article 14 refers to minimizing adverse environmental impacts. The London Convention/London Protocol has adopted an ocean fertilization research assessment framework potentially adaptable to other geoengineering techniques--see LC/LP Agrees on Ocean Fertilization Assessment Framework, 10/19/10.)
Government affirmation of support for geoengineering research is important because it helps to mainstream and legitimize an otherwise controversial field. Public affirmation is particularly important following the recent cancellation of the government-funded SPICE stratospheric aerosol technology field test (see SPICE Field Test Cancelled, 5/17), which has cast a pall over research efforts on both sides of the Atlantic. The ultimate significance of this newly clarified position will depend on whether additional government funding is forthcoming, as well as whether this British decision opens the way for other Western government agencies (US DOE?) to take stronger measures in support of geoengineering research.