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UNESCO’s Report on the Ethics of Climate Engineering

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) published the first-ever report on the Ethics of Climate Engineering.
  • COMEST is an advisory body and forum of reflection set up by UNESCO in 1998.


About Climate Engineering

  • Climate Engineering, or “geoengineering,” involves intentional large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system to counter climate change.
  • It is classified into two groups:

1) Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR): Draws emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2) Solar Radiation Modification (SRM): Reflects sunlight back to space.


Key Ethical Concerns

  • Creation of a “slippery slope” that accelerates deployment without an ethical framework.
  • Techniques creating a “moral hazard,” providing an excuse to avoid reducing fossil fuel use.
  • Potential influence by corporations for economic gain.
  • Geoengineering tools having the potential for military or geo-political use.


Recommendations for Reducing Risks

  • Introduction of legislation by states to regulate new forms of climate action.
  • Scientific research on climate engineering based on ethical standards consistent with international law.
  • Consideration and involvement of marginalized communities in climate engineering policies.



·      Established in 1945.

·      Headquarters located in Paris, France.

·      India is a member, with 194 Members and 12 Associate Members.

·      UNESCO’s Initiatives include the Universal Copyright Convention (1952), Man and the Biosphere program (1971), World Heritage Convention (1972), and Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).

·      Objective is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication, and information.

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