The goals of COP21 and geoengineering

The goals of COP21 and geoengineering

By Silvia Ribeiro *

The average global temperature increased by 0.85oC in the last century, most of it in the last 40 years, due to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases, caused by the use of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal), mainly for energy production, agro-industrial food system, urbanization and transportation. If it follows the current course, the temperature will rise to 6 ° C at the end of the 21st century, with impacts so catastrophic that they cannot be predicted.

In the process towards COP21 and until its beginning, the draft negotiation text contemplated setting a global increase goal of 2oC until the year 2100, a figure that was fought anyway by the main emitters.

Surprisingly, Northern countries that are the main culprits of climate chaos, including the United States, Canada and the European Union, announced in the first week of COP21 that they would support a global goal of maximum 1, 5 o C. According to scientific estimates, this It would imply reducing their emissions by more than 80 percent by 2030, to which the governments of the Northern countries flatly refuse. So why now say they accept a goal of 1, 5 or C?

Predictably, their reasons are not clean and they hide scenarios that will further aggravate climate chaos: it is about legitimizing public support and subsidies for geoengineering and other high-risk technologies, such as nuclear, as well as the increase in the carbon market and other false "solutions".

But whatever the goal is set in the so-called Paris Agreement, it will have no costs for those who remain contaminated. The Convention accepted before COP 21 that gas reduction plans are not binding. They are “planned and determined contributions at the national level”, so each country declares intentions, not mandatory commitments. The sum of the “contributions” that each country has declared up to October 2015, already results in an increase in temperature from 3 to 3.5oC by the year 2100. And this is not even what they will actually do –which can be much worse– but what they declare. Therefore, although the global goal is "low", the real plans are in sight and the catastrophe continues.

Joining the discourse on a seemingly low goal does not change the plans presented, but it gives those governments “reasons” to argue that they should support geoengineering techniques, such as carbon storage and capture (CCS), a A technique that comes from the oil industry and that they present as capable of absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and “sequestering it” by injecting it at great depth into geological depths, where, according to the industry, it would remain “forever”.

The technology existed under the name "Enhanced Oil Recovery" or Enhanced Oil Recovery. It was invented to push deep oil reserves, but they will not develop it because it is not economically or technically viable. Renamed CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage), the same technology is now being sold as a solution to climate change. Thus, governments will have to subsidize facilities (to meet the “goals” of the Convention), companies will be able to extract and burn even more oil, and on top of that they will be able to collect carbon credits for supposedly “sequestering and storing” greenhouse gases.

CCS does not really work, there are only three operating plants in the world, heavily subsidized with public funds, some planned and others closed due to gas leaks or failures. However, governments and industries that promote it assure that they will be able to "compensate" with these techniques that are not even proven, the increase in their emissions, to reach "net zero emissions" or as they now call it "climate neutrality". It is not to reduce emissions, but to continue emitting and offsetting them with CCS, in this way the sum would give zero. They also ensure that if to this they add the development of bioenergy on a large scale, with huge monocultures of trees and other plants to produce "bioenergy", and also bury the carbon produced (they call it BECCS, bioenergy with CCS), it will result in "negative emissions "With which they could even sell the difference to other countries. A very lucrative business for those who caused climate change to continue emitting gases, with greater subsidies of public money. Shell's David Hone openly argues on his blog at COP21 the need to achieve a 1.5 degree goal, to support the development of CCS, BECCS and other geoengineering techniques. (

As these technologies will not work to lower emissions, but will increase climate change, in a few years they will propose other geoengineering technologies even more risky, such as the management of solar radiation. From now on, we have to dismantle his speech. It is not about reducing, it is not about low goals, it is not about tackling climate change. They are not false "solutions". Are lies.

* Silvia Ribeiro is a researcher at the ETC group


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