Statement from the Conference’s Scientific Organizing Committee

Oct 27, 2011   //   by Administrator   //   Pivot Points in the Environment

March 26, 2010
Statement from the Conference’s Scientific Organizing Committee

More than 175 experts from 15 countries with a wide diversity of backgrounds (natural science, engineering, social science, humanities, law) met for five days (March 22-26, 2010) at the Asilomar conference center in Pacific Grove, CA. The participants explored a range of issues that need to be addressed to ensure that research into the risks, impacts and efficacy of climate intervention methods is responsibly and transparently conducted and that potential consequences are thoroughly understood. The group recognized that given our limited understanding of these methods and the potential for significant impacts on people and ecosystems, further discussions must involve government and civil society. Such discussions should be undertaken with humility and recognition of the threats posed by the rapid increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Participants reaffirmed that the risks posed by climate change require a strong commitment to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to unavoidable climate change, and development of low-carbon energy sources independent of whether climate intervention methods ultimately prove to be safe and feasible.

The fact that humanity’s efforts to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases (mitigation) have been limited to date is a cause of deep concern. Additionally, uncertainties in the response of the climate system to increased greenhouse gases leave open the possibility of very large future changes. It is thus important to initiate further research in all relevant disciplines to better understand and communicate whether additional strategies to moderate future climate change are, or are not, viable, appropriate and ethical. Such strategies, which could be employed in addition to the primary strategy of mitigation, include climate intervention methods (solar radiation management) and climate remediation methods (carbon dioxide removal).

We do not yet have sufficient knowledge of the risks associated with using methods for climate intervention and remediation, their intended and unintended impacts, and their efficacy in reducing the rate of climatic change to assess whether they should or should not be implemented. Thus, further research is essential.

Recognizing that governments collectively have ultimate responsibility for decisions concerning climate intervention and remediation research and possible implementation, this conference represented a step in facilitating a process involving broader public participation. This process should ensure that research on this issue progresses in a timely, safe, ethical and transparent manner, addressing social, humanitarian and environmental issues.

The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies was developed by the Climate Response Fund in partnership with Guttman Initiative and organized by the Scientific Organizing Committee for the Climate Institute. For further information contact the Climate Institute at asilomar@climate.org or visit the Climate Response Fund website at www.climateresponsefund.org.

Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies Scientific Organizing Committee

  • Dr. Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist, Climate Institute, Chair
  • Dr. Paul Berg, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, Advisor and Honorary Chair
  • Dr. Paul Crutzen, Max Plank Institute, Germany, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, US (corresponding member)
  • Dr. Scott Barrett, Lenfest Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Columbia University, US
  • Dr. Roger Barry, Director of the World Data Center for Glaciology and Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of Colorado, US
  • Dr. Steven Hamburg, Chief Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, US
  • Dr. Richard Lampitt, Senior Scientist, National Oceanography Center and associated professor, University of Southampton, UK
  • Dr. Diana Liverman, Co-Director of the Institute for Environment and Society and Professor of Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona, US. Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Oxford and Senior Fellow in the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK.
  • Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, Heinz Center Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science and the Environment, US
  • Dr. Gordon McBean, Professor, Departments of Geography and Political Science and Director of Policy Studies at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.
  • Dr. John Shepherd, Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science, School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, and Deputy Director (External Science Coordination) of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK
  • Mr. Stephen Siedel, Vice President for Policy Analysis and General Counsel at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, US
  • Dr. Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, US
  • Dr. Thomas Wigley, Professor, University of Adelaide, Australia