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Climate and Geoengineering

There is a new debate in climate policy, driven by small expert circles largely in the Global North, that suggests the development and possibly later deployment of solar geoengineering technologies. One proposed technology is the massive spraying of aerosols into the stratosphere ‘to dim the sun’. Given the huge risks that come with reckless deployment of such still speculative technologies, 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 studies have shown that the numerous 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 joined a group of scholars in 2021 to support an International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering (see here).

The response to this call has been overwhelming, and more than 460 academics from 61 countries have signed the Open Letter calling for such a non-use agreement. More than 1900 civil society organizations have endorsed the letter.

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)

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