Annex: Joint Statement of the U.K. and
U.S. Committees on Collaboration and Coordination on Geoengineering
A joint inquiry on geoengineering was initiated in
2009 by the Science and Technology committees of the U.S. House
of Representatives and the U.K. House of Commons. Geoengineering
is the deliberate, large-scale modification of the Earth's climate
systems for the purposes of counteracting climate change. This
document serves as an explanation of the committees' coordination
and collaboration on the topic.
In April 2009, the U.K. Committee with the remit
for science visited Washington D.C. Its Members met with Representative
Bart Gordon, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Science
and Technology Committee, and the chairmen of both committeesPhil
Willis MP was the Chairman of the House of Commons Committeediscussed
topics of mutual interest and potential collaboration. Representative
Gordon suggested that there would be value in the two Committees
collaborating on an emerging science and technology subject with
important international implications.
The committees explored several potential topics
and arrangements for coordinating activities. Geoengineering emerged
as an attractive subject for the collaboration, particularly as
most geoengineering projects will have international implications
and require international collaboration. The two committees were
at different stages of examination on the subject, with the U.K.
Committee having already produced a report and the U.S. Committee
initiating a series of preliminary hearings on the subject. This
would allow the committees to leverage each other's experience
by covering distinct aspects of subject.
In its report, Engineering: turning ideas into reality,
(HC (2008-09) 50-I, March 2009) the U.K. Committee recommends
that the Government develop a publicly-funded programme of geoengineering
research (para 217). Following the Committee's report the U.K.
Royal Society published, on 1 September 2009, the findings of
a major study into geoengineering, Geoengineering the climate:
science, governance and uncertainty. This study provided a detailed
assessment of the various methods and considered the potential
efficiency and unintended consequences they might pose. The U.S.
Committee is drawing on the Royal Society's report and its contributing
scientists and policy experts, including Professor John Shepherd,
who chaired the working group that produced the report.
The U.S. inquiry
The U.S. Committee is examining issues regarding
the research and development of geoengineering proposals, focusing
their inquiry on the following questions:
- Under what circumstances would the U.S. consider
initiating research or the actual deployment of geoengineering?
- Which, if any, of the proposed geoengineering
activities warrant further evaluation through coordinated, government-sponsored
research, and which activities should be removed from consideration
due to unacceptable risks or costs?
- Which U.S. Federal Agencies have either the legal
jurisdiction or technical resources to address geoengineering
and, of those, which should lead a coordinated U.S. effort?
- To inform international decision-making processes
regarding the deployment of geoengineering activities, what level
of investment in research is appropriate?
- Which existing international frameworks would
govern research, development and deployment of geoengineering?
And what new models for international cooperation must be developed
to address the unique challenges of geoengineering deployment?
- How could these international frameworks for
research and development serve to inform the regulation of deployment
of geoengineering activities?
The U.S. Committee began its inquiry by convening
a series of hearings and they will publish a final report as a
capstone to the joint inquiry. The final report will include materials
from all three hearings as well as the UK Commons Committee report.
The hearings serve both to form the foundation for an informed
and open dialogue on the science and engineering of geoengineering,
and to provide a Congressional record to underpin the formation
of legislation authorizing the United States to engage in geoengineering
research at the Federal and international level.
The first hearing provided an introduction to the
concept of geoengineering, including the science and engineering
underlying various proposals, potential environmental risks and
benefits, associated domestic and international governance issues,
research and development needs, and economic rationales both supporting
and opposing the research and deployment of geoengineering activities.
The second hearing explored the science, engineering needs, environmental
impacts, price, efficacy, and permanence of solar radiation management
and carbon dioxide removal strategies for geoengineering. The
third and final hearing in this series will explore issues relevant
to the both the domestic and international governance of geoengineering
research, with Phil Willis, Chairman of the U.K. Science and Technology
Committee, testifying at this hearing.
The U.K. inquiry
One area which the Royal Society's report identified
as requiring examination was the need to develop adequate international
mechanisms to regulate geoengineering. It noted the importance
of identifying where regulatory gaps existed in relation to geoengineering
methods and to establish a process for the development of mechanisms
to address these gaps. Taking its cue from the Royal Society's
report, the British Committee settled on the following terms of
reference for an inquiry into the regulation of geoengineering:
- What UK regulatory mechanisms apply to geoengineering
and what changes will need to be made for purpose of regulating
- Is there a need for international regulation
of geoengineering and, if so, what international regulatory mechanisms
need to be developed; and
- How should international regulations be developed
The outline timetable for the inquiry is:
Nov 2009 Call for evidence
Dec 2009 Deadline for written submissions to
Jan 2010 Hearingexperts, international
organisations and the UK Government.
Mar 2010 Report published and Chairman gives
testimony on Committee's report to the U.S Committee.
Due to procedure, the committees will not sit jointly;
therefore, the committees are working together by sharing publicly
available papers and the evidence and testimony that each has
received. In addition, the committees are coordinating inquiry-related
activities. The following arrangements have been agreed:
- All U.K. Committee memoranda and transcripts
(i.e., papers) will be sent to the U.S. Committee once reported
to the House of Commons;
- All U.S. Committee papers will be sent to the
U.K. Committee once reported to the Committee Clerk;
- The staff of each Committee are in regular contact
with one another and sharing information on geoengineering;
- The U.K. Committee's report will contain a chapter
drawing on the experience of two Committees working together with,
if necessary, recommendations on arrangements for future coordination;
- The Chairman of the U.K. Committee will testify
in March 2010 on the conclusions and recommendations in the U.K.
Committee report to the U.S. Committee, which will be treated
as testimony to the U.S. Committee.