Technology Assessment in Copenhagen

Technology Assessment in Copenhagen

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Our Health and Environment Campaigner, Ian Illuminato, will be joining the rest of our team in Copenhagen on December 13. Ian’s mandate during the negotiations will involve lobbying for stricter assessment of risky technologies, which are being promoted to help with the climate crisis.

There is pressing concern that in the panic to respond to the climate crisis, governments and industry will promote risky ‘techno-fix’ solutions that will actually make our situation worse. It may seem like a bad science fiction plot to consider spraying nanoparticles of sulphur in the upper atmosphere to act as a giant planetary sunscreen, or dumping iron nanoparticles in the ocean to trigger giant algal blooms that will supposedly suck up carbon dioxide. However these and similar proposals are beginning to attract qualified support from previously skeptical quarters. Despite the clear need for it, there is a serious shortage of well researched critical information available about the applications and implications of nanotechnology and synthetic biology for climate change and in the areas of energy production and use.

Emerging technologies including geo-engineering (climate manipulation), nanotechnology, synthetic biology in agrofuels and others are promoted through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol and elsewhere for their capacity to deliver climate solutions. Yet, before any of these technologies are implemented, we need to make sure they are safe and effective – hence the need to create strong policy frameworks, which would allow us to discard problematic technologies and better support ones that could potentially help.

During the second week of the negotiations, Ian will be busy interviewing activist, policy makers, and delegates to gather opinions and intelligence about technology assessment within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This information will then become part of a report currently being prepared for release in April of 2010. The report will bring together information about key technologies being promoted and take a good hard look at the potential for these new technologies to help or hinder.

See a sign-on declaration on the need for social and environmental assessment of technology in the Copenhagen agreement. This declaration was produced and supported by many organizations worldwide and will be released during a press conference on the 10th of December in Copenhagen.