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Hutchison Medal Recognizes Ocean Fertilization Paper

UNESCO IOC18 June 2014: The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) awarded the Hutchison medal to a team of authors for their paper, titled 'Ocean Fertilization for Geoengineering: A Review of Effectiveness, Environmental Impacts and Emerging Governance.' The award recognizes it as a "practical and wide-ranging, philosophical or thought-provoking" paper that will "stimulate further debate within the chemical engineering community."

The same authors wrote a report titled 'Ocean Fertilization: A Scientific Summary for Policy Makers,' published by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), with the assistance of the Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS). The Summary gave rise to the paper, which reviews large-scale ocean fertilization for the purpose of removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

Although ocean fertilization can sequester greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the paper stresses the difficulty of assessing the permanence of the sequestration. It also finds that ocean fertilization would not be a "particularly effective approach" to avoid climate change, even when taken within a portfolio of mitigation actions. It calls instead for urgent action to enact more direct policies to counter climate change.

Geoengineering constitutes an intervention in the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic emissions. The long-term effects of geoengineering are not well-known and the international community has expressed the importance of operating under the precautionary principle. [IOC-UNESCO Press Release] [Publication: Ocean Fertilization for Geoengineering: A Review of Effectiveness, Environmental Impacts and Emerging Governance] [Publication: Ocean Fertilization: A Scientific Summary for Policy Makers] [IISD RS Story on UNESCO IOC Statement on Geoengineering]