Climate and Geoengineering

Numerous studies suggest that so-called ‘climate engineering’ technologies might need to play a key role in the future. One proposed technology is for example the massive spraying of aerosols into the atmosphere ‘to dim the sun’. Research on such ideas is exploding, and critical scholars of earth system governance cannot ignore these debates. 

My initial interest in this topic related to my work on planetary justice and the fact that such technologies carry major risks for developing countries that are especially vulnerable to, and lack adaptive capacity to deal with, the impacts of such planetary-scale interventions. As my research (with Ina Möller) shows, the discussion about whether and how to engage with these technologies is shaped by experts from just a small set of countries in the Global North. Knowledge production around climate engineering is heavily dominated by the major research institutions in North America and Europe. 

Overall, numerous recent studies have shown that the risks of solar geoengineering are too high, that the development of such technologies threatens to delay and derail climate policies, and that solar geoengineering deployment at planetary scale could not be governed effectively and fairly.

For these reasons, I have led in 2021 the launch of a new initiative for an International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering. The response has been overwhelming, and more than 60 senior scholars have signed the Open Letter of this initiative (as of 17 January 2022).

Related research includes:

Solar geoengineering: The case for a non-use agreement (open access)

Rich man’s solution: climate engineering discourses and the marginalization of the Global South (open access copy)

Seeding the clouds to reach the sky: Will China’s weather modification practices support the legitimization of climate engineering?

Anticipatory governance of solar geoengineering: conflicting visions of the future and their links to governance proposals (open access article)