Treaty To Control Sea Geoengineering | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 91 Issue 43 | p. 23 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 28, 2013

Treaty To Control Sea Geoengineering

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: geoengineering, London Convention, ocean dumping

Attempts to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by stimulating marine plant growth—a type of geoengineering—will soon be regulated under amendments to an international treaty. The pact, called the London Convention, prohibits the dumping of waste and other matter at sea. Earlier this month, governments agreed to amendments to the pact that generally ban the addition of matter, including fertilizers, into marine environments to manipulate natural processes such as photosynthesis to counteract climate change. Such activities, however, will be allowed if signatory governments authorize them with a permit. “An ocean fertilization activity may only be considered for a permit if it is assessed as constituting legitimate scientific research,” says the International Maritime Organization. The group administers the London Convention and a 1996 treaty addition, called a protocol, under which permits for dumping at sea are issued. The new action amends only the protocol part of the treaty. Currently, 43 countries are party to the protocol, including several European nations, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia. The U.S. is a party to the London Convention but not the protocol.

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