Former US vice-president Al Gore has said there is no quick fix to the issue of climate change, branding the idea of geoengineering as “insane”. This comes as a United Nations (UN) report suggests that governments may have to turn to carbon dioxide removal technology if emissions are not sufficiently cut.
Geoengineering involves manipulating the climate in order to reduce the negative effects of climate change. One of the methods most commonly debated involves putting sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, mimicking the effects of a large volcanic eruption, to reflect incoming sunlight.
According to the Guardian, Gore said, “The idea that we can put a different form of pollution into the atmosphere to cancel out the effects of global warming pollution is utterly insane.
“The fact that some scientists who should know better are actually engaged in serious discussion of those alternatives is a mark of how desperate some of them are feeling due to paralysis in the global political system.”
The Nobel peace prize-winning environmentalist, whose documentary film An Inconvenient Truth is influential in the green world, added that geoengineering could create bigger risks as well as leaving other effects of climate change unresolved.
His comments come as research from the University of Reading found that whilst geoengineering could provide a solution for northern Europe and parts of Asia, it would be at the expense of regions in Africa, North and South America and south-east Asia. Climate manipulation would lead to a change in rainfall patterns, which would pose a “huge” risk to fragile ecosystems, the researchers said.
The news agency Reuters said it had seen a draft UN report that suggested governments may have to extract vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the air in order to limit the impact climate change.
The report allegedly stated that world emissions will have to fall by 40-70% between 2010 and 2050 in order to meet the UN target of limiting warming to below 2C. Scientists say warming above 2C would lead to widespread damage from floods, droughts and rising sea levels. In order to achieve this target, governments may have to resort to carbon dioxide removal technology.
Global emissions are continuing to rise, with BP predicting a 29% increase by 2035, and as a result alternative solutions to cutting emissions are more frequently being discussed. According to the UN climate chief Christina Figueres, the world needs to invest $1 trillion (£600 billion) a year into renewable and energy efficiency by 2030 in order to exit a fossil fuels-based economy and reduce emissions.