Senior Canadian Government Meeting Looked at Geoengineering
The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that a “secret” Canadian government meeting on worst-case climate scenarios took place last summer, and examined geoengineering as one potential response.
The meeting was convened by the former deputy minister of Environment Canada, Paul Boothe, and was closed to the public.
It is unclear who attended the meeting, but invitees included representatives from the Department of National Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, Natural Resources Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national security advisor declined to attend.
The newspaper obtained a presentation made by Environment Canada under Canada’s freedom of information law.
In its presentation, the department stated that, “To avoid surpassing it [the 2 C warming target], global CO2 emissions must level off immediately, and decline to negative values before end of century (implying net CO2 extraction from atmosphere), or other means of moderating warming would be needed.”
More specific details of the discussions on geoengineering are unavailable.
The inclusion of geoengineering on the meeting agenda was apparently spurred by a March 2012 email exchange between Boothe and Harvard professor David Keith.
It should be noted that this meeting occurred prior to last fall’s disclosures regarding rogue OIF experiments off the coast of Haida Gwaii.
Secret meeting on climate dangers convened last summer
POSTMEDIA NEWS JUNE 25, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national security adviser Stephen Rigby turned down a request to join a secret meeting attended by other senior government officials invited last summer to plan for worst-case global-warming scenarios.
The public service department that supports the prime minister’s office – the Privy Council Office – said Monday that it didn’t send anyone to the meeting, convened by the former deputy minister at Environment Canada, Paul Boothe, who also invited the heads of Canada’s spy agency, the Department of National Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to attend.
A spokeswoman for PCO wasn’t immediately able to say whether it followed up on information shared during the session.
The discussion, outlined in documents that were marked “secret” but declassified for release through access-to-information legislation, predicted that the world would likely reach a tipping point in global warming by 2050, missing an international target agreed to by Harper and other international leaders at 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen as part of a deal to avoid irreversible damage to the planet’s ecosystems and its economy.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, models predict (the) 2 C warming target, agreed to in Copenhagen will be exceeded by mid-century,” said a presentation delivered by Environment Canada at the July 5, 2012 meeting.
“To avoid surpassing it, global CO2 emissions must level off immediately, and decline to negative values before end of century (implying net CO2 extraction from atmosphere), or other means of moderating warming would be needed.”
The Environment Canada presentation warned of several potential impacts of temperature increases, including increases in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones as well as impacts on coastal cities, food security and biodiversity loss.
Most representatives on the list of invitees, including the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the Department of National Defence, said Monday that they were trying to track down information about their role in the closed-door discussion.
Natural Resources Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans referred questions to Environment Canada, but the latter department’s Gatineau headquarters were closed for the Quebec holiday Monday.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is slated to deliver his own climate-change plan in a speech on Tuesday, led international discussions in Copenhagen, which resulted in the voluntary agreement that aims to prevent global warming of more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The special meeting, spear-headed by Boothe, was one of the first major government-wide discussions of “geo-engineering” – described by Environment Canada as a deliberate large-scale intervention in the planet’s climate to counteract or reverse the warming effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
It was also the last major meeting convened by Boothe before he retired from the public service to accept a position as a director of a policy centre at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business.
Geo-engineering methods could include adding iron to oceans to enhance their absorption of carbon dioxide, sulphur injections in the atmosphere or satellite mirrors to block or reflect solar radiation or large-scale afforestation.
Calgary-based climate scientist David Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard University, asked Boothe in a March 2012 email to examine the issue, noting that there was an emerging debate about international research co-ordination and regulations surrounding geo-engineering methods.
Keith, who was cleaning out his basement Monday damaged by the recent flooding in southern Alberta, said in an interview that geo-engineering options and their potential impacts need to be studied as an option to help protect vulnerable populations in developing countries from the effects and extreme weather events linked to existing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But he stressed that the planet would still need to reduce the human-produced greenhouse gas emissions, linked mainly to consumption of fossil fuels, as part of a comprehensive response to global warming.
“No amount of geo-engineering in the future will help if we don’t cut emissions,” Keith said.
ENVIRONMENT CANADA ADMITS ‘RISK AND UNCERTAINTY’ OF GEOENGINEERING: ‘Need for governance’ admitted in heavily redacted ‘declassified’ report, July 5, 2012
July 3, 2013 § 4 Comments
An Environment Canada (EC) document entitled Geoengineering: Science and Governance, dated July 5, 2012, admits that there is ‘risk and uncertainty’ pertaining to geoengineering, and that there is a need for governance of these activities, effectively acknowledging that such governance is not already in place in Canada.
The EC document defines geoengineering as ‘the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system in order to moderate global warming’.
Geoengineering: Science and Governance refers to the ‘Oxford principle’ in its conclusions:
‘The “Oxford principle” (2012) states that geo-engineering should be regulated as a public good; there should be public participation in decision-making; research should be disclosed and results published openly; impacts should be assessed independently; and decisions to deploy the technologies should be made within a robust governance framework’.
Under the heading “Geoengineering Governance” we find tacit admission by EC that the state of scientific knowledge on geoengineering is deficient:
‘Some treaties have made statements and resolutions to curtail geoengineering until the state of knowledge increases and global governance is put in place.
‘UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – In 2010, no geoengineering should take place that may affect biodiversity until there is an adequate scientific basis.
‘Environmental Modification Convention (ENMOD) (1978) – bans environmental modification for hostile purposes. Signed by all major countries with the exception of China and Israel.’
The heavily redacted document is marked ‘declassified’, leading this writer to believe that the redacted sections pertain to references made to atmospheric and stratospheric geoengineering already ongoing in Canada.
This Scribd. document, showing redacted sections blocked out, is linked in the comments section of this post.
– Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell, Editor