Geoengineering Governance and the IMBECS Protocol by Marine BECCS
The Intergovermental Marine Bioenergy with Carbon Sequestration (IMBECS) Protocol Attempts to Address Multiple Current GE Governance Issues.
"How can research into geoengineering be governed to limit its environmental and political risks?". Starting small and evaluating for environmental stability during expansion would allow for the use of the precautionary principle up to and beyond 1M km2 of IMBECS production.
Also, the core technology needed to deploy IMBECS is already within the STEM arts and providing the basic technology to all energy importing nations would reduce political risk as such support should be widely welcomed at the public level. The IMBECS option offers an abundant/low cost energy supply, along with, a benign form of mitigating FF emissions while producing vast supplies of food, feed, fertilizer, freshwater, polymers/fabrics etc..
Interestingly, IMBECS already has a fledgling intergovernmental GE governance matrix in place. Organizations, such as the IMO and CBD, are currently evolving language which is attempting to encompass the concept of marine based GE. Thus, this project is an attempt to bring to the table a concept which can test both the relevant contemporary STEM and the existing intergovernmental governance realities.
Beyond the STEM aspects, this proposal calls for:
1) The creation of a non-profit organization which would function as a mirror organization to the primary treaty organizations for the purposes of synthesizing the intent of the UNFCCC, IMO, CBD etc. (ie. "preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth's climate system").
2) Such a non-profit foundation would function as the primary global "actor" for R&D, deployment (through licensing for-profit operational concerns) and IMBECS related enforcement.
All foundation activities would be transparent to the public and open to judgment by the primary treaty organizations.
For further information, please see the IMBECS Protocol Draft.
Category of the action
What actions do you propose?
Once the non-profit foundation is established, the initial governance related effort will be to present, to the relevant intergovernmental treaty organizations, a detailed STEM report covering all aspects of an 'investigational' IMBECS deployment. The treaty organizations will be asked to issue a 'Letter of Scientific Concern" or not. The lack of such a document being issued is paramount to tacit approval. Currently, the IMO points to the national level 'permit' process for gaining 'permission'. In the USA, however, there is no such permit available for geoengineering this planet. The requirement to use a permitting process that actually does not exist is both confusing and counterproductive.
There is a widely recognized governance gap regarding R&D and deployment activities on the subject of GE. No existing institution appears to have the mandate or institutional capacity to govern the foundational process of establishing research standards, governance mechanisms and oversight of the deployment field level operations. The IMBECS Protocol hopes to fill that need.
This IMBECS proposal calls for establishing proper permitting means and methods and the immediate physical deployment of IMBECS equipment. The core technology of IMBECS is simply mariculture. As such, physical deployment does not need any further form of national or international governance permitting beyond what is needed to carry out off shore mariculture....which is 'zero'.
Yet, the eventual scale of the deployment will produce a significant need for governance to protect the environment on multiple levels. In simple words, establishing proper intergovernmental governance of this technology is a high priority for this effort.
Once deployment has begun, while under full intergovernmental view, bringing the treaty organizations to the governance table will be relatively easy as the major STEM issues will be resolved and profits will be flowing. A wide spectrum of organizations can be expected to claim authority over the governance/profit/environmental aspects of a proven and profitable IMBECS operation. The IMBECS Protocol attempts to preempt such conflicts.
The importance of demonstrating the IMBECS technology, as a function of the governance design, can not be overstated. At the USG governance level, all US flagged IMBECS operations would need to comply with EPA standards. For more on USG/IMBECS.
Who will take these actions?
A call would be put out for interested parties which can bring to the project expert level STEM knowledge in the areas of:
1) Marine engineering
2) Marine cultivation
4) Benthic science
5) Biochar production
6) Electro Mineral Accretion
There is a small but growing group of individuals which have conceptual/academic/IP work in this overall STEM field of study. As this is an early stage proposal the use of the names/organizations would not be appropriate at this time.
Further, this call for collaboration would include international participants to support technology transfer and governance cooperation. Civil society level participation in the evaluation of the science/governance would be welcomed. Working with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission would be recommended as the IOC is, to a large extent, the template for the IMBECS Foundation concept.
At the organizational level, a number of actors will be needed to fill a wide range of positions. The organizational chart below gives a basic view of the scope of positions which will need recruited for.
Where will these actions be taken?
The North Pacific (Eastern Gyre) Subtropical Convergence Zone (STCZ) will be the initial site. All five STCZs are, however, useful for IMBECS operations.
What are other key benefits?
- Oceanic/Atmospheric CO2 Store Reduction Through Large Scale Cultivation of Marine Biomass and Marine Biochar production
- Wide Area Surface Cooling of Thermally Critical Oceanic Regions
- Global Scale Production of Organic Food/Feed/Fertilizer/Polymers
- Vast Scale Production of Freshwater
- Creation of Mid-Oceanic Wildlife Preserves Supporting Biodiversity and the Protection of Endangered Marine Species
- Global Energy Independence Resulting in a Trans-generational Global Economic Stimulus
- Accomodations for Environmental/Economic Induced Migration; IMBECS Physical Operations Represent a New Form of 'Real Estate' (and jobs) for Displaced Persons
- Reduces Pressure on Wild Catch Fisheries through Significant Expansion of Global Aquaculture
- Reduces Pressure on Food Crop Conversion to Fuel Crops
What are the proposal’s costs?
The IMBECS operations are self funding through profits once they begin operations. An initial R&D funding level of $750M is proposed, within the IMBECS Protocol Draft (pg. 17, Sec. 12), as a means to carry out:
1) Routine engineering testing required for establishing engineering and production standards
2) Establishing the IMBECS Foundation and thus national and global governance administration
3) Construction and deployment of a 10 km2 Marine Resources Conversion Research Platform equipped with a Marine Covective Tower (the MBECS commercial scale production platform prototype).
Preparations for off shore deployment operations can start immediately as there are no governance issues regarding off shore mariculture operations.
Global replacement of FF use will require up to 20 years of robust construction of IMBECS operations. This time frame is limited only by the scope of the initial financial investment. A robust starting budget, which is here proposed, would reduce the time to global FF replacement by years compared to a minimal level financial start.
The time for expansion of production is acceptable as sudden and substantial reduction in atmospheric black carbon/sulfur would increase planetary temperatures due to the expected increase in atmospheric moisture resulting from the BC/S reduction (Fools Atmosphere). Thus, a 20 year time frame for replacing FFs should be considered for planetary environmental and industrial sector adaptation reasons.
In 20-30 years, IMBECS should be globally mainstreamed.
4) US Government:
5) US Carbon Price:
10) Global Plan:
For a brief overview of how the above proposals fit together, please see the 'Global Plan' section on 'Sub-proposals' and 'How do these sub-proposals fit together?'. The explanation simply needs more room than is available here.
NASAs’ OMEGA study.