News | 19th Mar, 2010

Geo-tech talks sponsorship slammed

Friday, 19 March 2010
Adam Morton, The Age

The Victorian government is facing criticism for its headline support of an international conference promoting ''geo-engineering'' – controversial techniques to alter the climate in the event of catastrophic global warming.

Dubbed the ''Woodstock of geo-engineering'', the California conference will consider contentious techniques such as blocking solar radiation using mirrors on satellites and pumping aerosols into the atmosphere, along with more conventional proposals to boost carbon stored in soil and forests.

The state government is the event's sole strategic partner, having invested $250,000 and committed to promoting the conference's recommendations.

Green campaigners asked why the state was backing a conference on ''climate intervention technologies'', saying the money would be better spent cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Influential US blogger, a geo-engineering critic, suggested Victoria's support might be linked to its reliance on ''dirty'' brown coal-fired energy.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Cam Walker said the government should concentrate on mitigation.

He said the conference aimed to draft voluntary standards for geo-engineering research before there had been discussion on its merit: ''There are a whole lot of opportunities here to drive renewables and innovation, but the government is kicking money into a potentially very dangerous path.''

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said: ''We would be much more comfortable with this conversation [about geo-engineering] if we were actually doing something to reduce emissions.''

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