Does Geoengineering Present a Moral Hazard?

40 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2014

See all articles by Albert Lin

Albert Lin

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: August 23, 2012


Geoengineering, a set of unconventional, untested, and risky proposals for responding to climate change, has attracted growing attention in the wake of our collective failure so far to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Geoengineering research and deployment remain highly controversial, however, not only because of the risks involved, but also because of concern that geoengineering might undermine climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. The latter concern, often described as a moral hazard, has been questioned by some but not carefully explored. This article examines the critical question of whether geoengineering presents a moral hazard by drawing on empirical studies of moral hazard and risk compensation and on the psychology literature of heuristics and cultural cognition. The article finds it likely that geoengineering efforts will undermine mainstream strategies to combat climate change and suggests potential measures for ameliorating this moral hazard.

Keywords: geoengineering, climate change, moral hazard, risk compensation

Suggested Citation

Lin, Albert, Does Geoengineering Present a Moral Hazard? (August 23, 2012). Ecology Law Quarterly, Forthcoming, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 312, Available at SSRN:

Albert Lin (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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