Governing Climate Engineering: Scenarios for Analysis
Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Discussion Paper
37 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 1, 2011
Geoengineering is a broad concept that encompasses a variety of large-scale, intentional, and "unnatural" technologies to control climate change, including both techniques to limit how much sunlight reaches the earth (usually referred to as "solar radiation management") as well techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ("carbon dioxide removal"). The potential of geoengineering to reverse global warming rapidly and cheaply makes it alluring to groups across the political spectrum, in particular, as a means of addressing rapid, catastrophic climate change. But geoengineering also poses significant risks, and raises the spectre of technology gone awry. This discussion paper for the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements reviews the various geoengineering approaches, analyzes their permissibility under existing international law, and explores the governance issues raised by four scenarios of particular concern: premature rejection, inadequate funding, unilateral action by an individual, and unilateral action by a single state or small group of states.
Keywords: International law, climate change, geoengineering, climate engineering
JEL Classification: K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation