Thoughts about my climate future

Guest blog by Béatrice Coroenne / 1 December 2021

[The views of guest post authors are their ownC2G does not necessarily endorse the opinions stated in guest posts. We do, however, encourage a constructive conversation involving multiple viewpoints and voices. The thoughts in this blog post neither form the views of YOUNGO.]

 In October I was invited by the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G) to speak at the Arctic Circle Assembly to give a youth perspective about stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), a type of solar radiation modification (SRM), and its possible place in our future society. C2G’s session, “Saving the Arctic? Reflecting sunlight with aerosols: governance gaps and challenges,” had three speakers, including myself, a scientist, an international climate policy expert and was well attended, with many young people in the room keenly interested in the topic.  

There is growing interest in climate-altering technologies, also called geoengineering, as potentially part of the tools to combat climate change, given the insufficient reduction of carbon emissions. At present, it lacks visibility on the scientific and political scenes, but I believe it is necessary to debate today, in particular for young people. 

To introduce myself a bit more, I am a French engineer of 25 years old, currently taking a master degree in political science. I am engaged in YOUNGO the youth constituency recognized by the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and especially in the Technology Mechanism working group of this constituency, that I created two years ago to discuss climate technologies and the place of youth in the development and transfer of technologies as a mean of mitigation.  

I think it is important to make people aware, but even more to include everyone in the debates and the decision-making processes, especially young and indigenous people whose futures will be impacted by climate change — about climate technologies currently being studied but still unknown like SRM in order to have a strong and inclusive governance  of those technologies if they were to be deployed one day. Indeed, too many times technologies are implemented, impacting our planet for generations, without having a consultation or even the approval of the population first in line to suffer from its consequences, and without having the knowledge necessary to get an opinion about their risks monitoring. 

Going to the Arctic Circle Assembly to discuss the voice of youth in the governance of such climate-altering technologies was a great experience for me. I was able to attend a lot of different sessions, including about the development of Greenland and the ecological considerations proposed by stakeholders, politicians and scientists in its economic development.  

I also was able to meet scientists and increase my knowledge of SRM. In particular, I could talk with Douglas MacMartin, who was also a speaker at the C2G session and a very prominent scientist specialized in SAI. Talking to him during and after the C2G session about SAI was eye opening to me. It underscored for me the fact that this technology, which could have strong effects on cooling the planet, is not discussed at all in public debate, even if we reach a climate red alert and must act now to reduce our impacts on climate.  

My experience also allowed me to meet other young people willing to be – or already – active in the climate field and are looking for opportunities to be more engaged. I could see during our session how many people – especially young people – were interested in this topic and added a youth perspective to the conversation. In my remarks at this session, I was able to advocate for youth and indigenous people to be included in the decision-making process about climate-altering technologies and their governance.  

I could also highlight the emergency my generation is facing and the importance of having more debate about new kinds of approaches and technologies, which would be complementary to carbon emissions reductions, which is happening too slowly. Time is running out. SAI, like other kinds of climate technologies, like carbon dioxide removal, is often ignored. However ignoring it is the best way to lose the opportunity to have a word in its development, risk monitoring and governance. I don’t have the scientific expertise to know if it is a viable solution but I sincerely think that young people should be aware of it and try to learn about it a bit more. 

Béatrice Coroenne is a French engineer, currently studying at the School of Advanced International and Political Studies (HEIP), France for a master’s degree in public affairs and public policies. She is the contact point of the YOUNGO (Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC) Technology Mechanism working group.

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