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Geoengineering

Please see below for a list of relevant articles and publications by Biofuelwatch.

Background:

Biofuelwatch opposes the use of climate geoengineering. This includes so-called Negative Emissions Technologies such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and biochar. Geoengineering technologies are too risky and ill conceived and likely to make matters worse rather than better, especially given our poor understanding of earth and atmospheric processes.

Furthermore, we do not believe the use of geoengineering technologies can be governed effectively. The potential for “weaponization” is already evident and there is serious risk that deployment could lead to escalating conflicts. Currently, decision making, debate, research and development are dangerously concentrated in the hands of a small number of wealthy, white, northern men from industrialized countries. Many come from backgrounds in weapons development (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory), and/or conservative think tanks engaged in climate denial efforts and fossil fuel industry promotion. Resorting to climate geoengineering could divert and distract urgently needed efforts to reduce emissions and make the deep society-wide changes that are essential if we are to minimize the projected impacts of global warming.

Biofuelwatch has worked especially to provide critique of those proposed technologies that would rely on large scale “biosequestration”. Among those approaches are bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, biomass burial, large scale afforestation and reforestation, ocean afforestation and others. Biosequestration (CDR, or carbon dioxide removal) approaches are sometimes promoted as more “benign” or “soft” than other proposed technologies such as sulphate particle injection (SRM, or solar radiation management)

But they are not at all benign or soft. All would require very large scale supplies of biomass and thus have very dramatic impacts on already degraded ecosystems and biodiversity. Also there is remarkably little basis for assuming they will actually work to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions.

Biofuelwatch – and joint – Reports and Briefings

Negative Emission Technologies: Can they deliver?, Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, December 2020

What have we learned about biochar since 2011?, Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, January 2020

New factsheets about geoengineering developments and technologies, including BECCS and Biochar, publichsed by Geoengineering Monitor (joint project with Heinrich Böll Foundation and ETC Group)

New summary BECCS report: Last ditch climate option or wishful thinking?, Biofuelwatch and Heinrich Boell Foundation, April 2016

Last ditch climate option or wishful thinking? Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, December 2015

Smoke and Mirrors: Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), November 2015

Biochar’s Unproven Claims – Factsheet, last updated July 2013

Geo-engineering: A new intervention in climate and earth systems?, Joint Briefing by Biofuelwatch and Econexus, 12th March 2013

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage: Climate Savior or Dangerous Hype?, Report, 5th October 2012

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS): Updated Biofuelwatch briefing for Rio+20 (June 2012)

Biochar Fund Trials in Cameroon: Hype and Unfulfilled Promises, report by researcher Benoit Anthony Ndameu and Biofuelwatch, 29th November 2011 [Note that we are listing this report on this page because biochar is being promoted for geoengineering and the report illustrates the real experiences of small farmers with a project aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of biochar, including for the carbon markets.  We are not implying that Biochar Fund’s project in itself  contsitutes geoengineering.]

A Critical Review of Biochar Science and Policy, Report, last updsted 27th November 2011

Biofuelwatch response to WorldStove’s critique of our report Biochar: A Critical Review of Science and Policy, 21st September 2011

First medium-term, peer-reviewed biochar field trial: What happened to all the carbon?, briefing, 1st June 2011

Biochar Land Grabbing: The Impacts on Africa, briefing by the African Biodiversity Network, Biofuelwatch and the Gaia Foundation, last updated 1st December 2010

Tar Sands With Biochar?, factsheet, 16th November 2010

Biofuelwatch (and joint) Articles, videos and presentations

Carbon Capture and Storage : Green Solution or Climate Disaster?, video of webinar by Biofuelwatch, Friends of the Eath Scotland, Corporate Europe Observatory and Center for International Environmental Law, October 2021

Drax Power Station and BECCS – Biomass Myth Busting, video, Dorian Wainwright, October 2021

Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage – Biomass Myth Busting, video, Dorian Wainwright, October 2021

California Legislature Backs Off Of Net Zero Plan, Overwhelmingly Approves Geoengineering Bill Promoting Direct Air Capture, BECCS And Nature-based Solutions, Graham Hughes, September 2021

UK Parliamentary Briefing: Bioenergy with Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS), Cut Carbon Not Forest Ccoalitions (incl. Biofuelwatch), March 2021

Negative Emissions Technologies: Can they Deliver?, Rachel Smolker, December 2020

Can BECCS help Scotland address the climate emergency?, Almuth Ernstsing, webinar presentation, June 2020

BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS): A Dangerous Distraction from Meaningful Climate Action, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Biofuelwatch, June 2020

Drax Plc, pioneering another false solution to the climate emergency, Almuth Ernsting, Forest Cover, May 2020

Deceptive California Climate Bill Pushes Geoengineering, Gary Hughes, Geoengineering Monitor, April 2020

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS): The Distracting Injustice of an Infeasible and Unlikely Technofix, Rachel Smolker, Development, September 2019 (peer-reviewed article)

Policymakers Shouldn’t Trust Drax’s Bizarre Tree-Burning Climate Solution, Almuth Ernsting, Desmog Blog, 22nd July 2019

BECCS: Discourse about unicorns descends into real-world farce, Biofuelwatch, February 2019

Climate change needs real solutions not more hot air, Almuth Ernsting, New Internationalist, July 2016

The phantom of the COP21 Opera: Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, Oliver Munnion, Global Forest Coalition, 8th December 2015

Techno-Optimism and Bad Science in Paris: The Problem With Carbon Capture and Storage, Almuth Ernsting, Truthout, 3rd December 2015

Climate Technofix: Weaving Carbon into Gold and Other Myths of “negative emissions”, Rachel Smolker, Independent Science News, 1st December 2015

Blazing a trail of deception: the White Rose Project and “negative emissions” technologies, Oliver Munnion, 15th July 2015

Should we experiment with climate geoengineering, Rachel Smolker and Almuth Ernsting, 23rd February 2015

From the Concorde to Climate Sci-Fi Solutions, Almuth Ernsting Truth Out, 29th January 2015

‘Uncertainties’ is an understatement, when it comes to BECCS, Rachel Smolker, 10th November 2014

Intergovernmental Climate Report Leaves Hopes Hanging on Fantasy Technology, Rachel Smolker, Truth Out, 22nd April 2014

What Is Climate Geoengineering? Word Games in the Ongoing Debates Over a Definition, Truthout, Rachel Smolker, 12th February 2014

Where’s The Lorax When We Need Him?, Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post, 19th December 2013

Geoengeering The Sky Is Not “Normal”, Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post, 6th December 2013

Typhoons, Climate Negotiations and a Reality Check, Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post, 11th November 2013

Biochar: Black Gold or Just Another Snake Oil Scheme?, Rachel Smolker Earth Island Journal, 18th September 2013

Science or Propaganda: New hype about Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, Almuth Ernsting, Hands Off Mother Earth blog, 9th August 2013

Biochar: cause for concern?, Almuth Ernsting, The Ecologist Blog, 23rd July 2013

Tree plantations and bioenergy with carbon capture: far from “safe” geoengineering, Almuth Ernsting, Hands Off Mother Earth blog, 11th June 2013

Climate Crisis: Radical action or a new battlefront in the war on nature?, Almuth Ernsting and Rachel Smolker, Common Dreams, 28th May 2013

Geoengineering is a Dangerous Solution to Climate Change, Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post, 22nd March 2013

Agrofuels and Biochar, Almuth Ernsting, article for the Climate Change Conference 2010 at the University of Toronto, 31st August 2010

Charcoal Ain’t Gonna Cool The Planet, Rachel Smolker, Common Dreams, 8th June 2010

Risks posed by the WECHAR (Water efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration) Bill, followed by Separate Statement by three Scientists about Salt Cedars and the WECHAR Bill, Factsheet, 30th March 2010

We Can’t Technofix Our Way to a Sustainable Future, Rachel Smolker, Common Dreams, 23rd March 2010

Chapter 5, Agriculture and Climate Change: Real Problems, False Solutions, Report published by NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark), Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Econexus and Biofuelwatch

Biochar: Can Charcoal Really Stop Global Warming?, Almuth Ernsting, The Ecologist, 30th June 2009

Climate Geo-engineering with ‘Carbon Negative’ Bioenergy, Report, 22nd December 2008

Biofuelwatch Consultation Responses and Joint Statements:

UK: Joint NGO Letter on BECCS to UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), March 2021

Biofuelwatch response to UK National Infrastructure Ccommission Call for Evidence on Greenhouse Gas Removals, March 2021

Biofuelwatch response to Greenhouse Gas Removals Call for Evidence by UK government, February 2021

Joint NGO response to Greenhouse Gas Removals Call for Evidence by UK Government, Februrary 2021

Grave doubts about Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Joint NGO letter to the Scottish Government, September 2020

Biofuelwatch response to UK government consultation “Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS): business models”, September 2019

Response to consultation by the Convention on Biological Diversity: “Update on climate geoengineering in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity potential impacts and regulatory framework”, August 2015