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If projections for the future of geoengineering are laid, its first international conference can come in, in 2013. Pockets of talks, discussions, presentations and conferences on the subject have been held in Australia, Europe and the United States in recent months.
These, later this year, will be held at new locations. Africa is confirmed, while Asia and South America could be in plans or preparations for, can be started. Geoengineering discussions and reports that present them pitch it as likely, at some stage, a solution to global warming.
Mitigation of greenhouse emissions is the clear solution to global warming, but doubts remain if international cooperation, within this decade, can do to avoid irreversible climate change. Geoengineering is courted as part solution or to buy time, but it is still faced with the use or not flutter for other possibilities with most of its technologies.
There are several technologies for geoengineering categorized under two types, Solar Radiation Management, SRM and Carbon Dioxide Removal, CDR. Technologies under SRM and CDR vary by capability, feasibility, scalability, sustainability and cost. Simulations of some of the technologies are used in studies, but testing for others, in what may look like deployment, require international cooperation.
International cooperation to test some of the technologies and give geoengineering more shape can come during an international conference. The conference will form a ring around the subject and will provide the control that is advocated, in discussions. In a conference where representatives, of different background, from say 60 countries will attend, likely answers to many of the issues raised in previous discussions will be given and discussions will be expanded at different sessions of the conference.
The conference will give credence to geoengineering worldwide, after which it will –- officially –- be seen as a solution, than a scientific community thing, which is, partly, for now. Geoengineering talks and discussions from the time the international conference is determined to be held, will focus on preparing minds for the conference.
Groups, institutions and individuals with ardor involvement in geoengineering should effectively put its first international conference together. A center for overall coordination will however be required. The United Kingdom’s Royal Society can be that center, with support from major geoengineering policy groups like the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI).
The conference in 2013, will come after the UN Climate Change Conference this December in Qatar, directed to look at a climate change deal for ratification by nations in 2015 and adoption by 2020. The geoengineering conference will look away from the exact level of progress of the climate change conference, but will seek solutions that can be added to bolster emission mitigation objective, especially with CDR.
The conference will also contribute to stance and recommendation on geoengineering from the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, set to be out by late-2013 & 2014. The conference will also raise the face of geoengineering pushing the world to agree on an ‘easier’ option of curbing emissions or take a ‘harder’ and ‘unknown’ one, geoengineering.
The conference is the way forward for geoengineering as most necessities for a major subject, have been achieved without an international conference, examples, a proposed but now cancelled test (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering, SPICE), diverse meetings, various research reports & presentations, and growing media attention.
Geoengineering will remain scraping if an international conference is not considered to be held between the next 12-18months. Other meetings can continue as usual, but what will step geoengineering up is an international conference that will give it a face. 2013 is not too close for one.
By David Stephen
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