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Climate geoengineering technologies: Corruption and integrity gaps

Technologies for manipulating the environment, also known as geoengineering, are increasingly being touted as the solution for halting and solving the climate crisis. Novel technology solutions such as carbon capture and storage and solar radiation management are among the most commonly suggested fixes to counteract global heating.

However, these technologies carry significant corruption risks and potentially far-reaching and unknown impacts on the environment. The possible risks and side effects constitute nearly incalculable uncertainties and require detailed regulations to ensure transparency and utmost public accountability in their uptake and use.

This policy brief explores where and how corruption arises when using climate geoengineering technologies and examines the power dynamics behind their creation and implementation.

The brief also puts forward recommendations on how to combat and mitigate corruption risks to ensure high standards of governance and public accountability are kept at the core of geoengineering technologies.

Some of the recommendations that we put forward include:

At the international level:

- Clear and explicit conflict of interest rules should be put in place at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to prevent geoengineering proponents from influencing and lobbying UNFCCC decision-makers.

- There should be public accountability remedies concerning geoengineering activities. This could include establishing an independent grievance redress mechanism with full and effective stakeholder participation for all processes concerning activities (including carbon capture and storage) under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Accountability options under international human rights instruments could also be explored, such as using the UN Human Rights Council’s special procedures.

At the national level:

- Free and prior informed consent by potentially affected communities should be a condition for official authorisation to proceed.

- Public accountability remedies concerning geoengineering are needed, including ensuring access to appropriate administrative and judicial remedies and full and effective stakeholder participation in its oversight.