Green Moral Hazards

28 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2019 Last revised: 9 Jul 2020

See all articles by Gernot Wagner

Gernot Wagner

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies; New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Daniel Zizzamia

Harvard University

Date Written: July 8, 2020


Moral hazards are ubiquitous. Green ones typically involve technological fixes: Environmentalists often see ‘technofixes’ as morally fraught because they absolve actors from taking more difficult steps towards systemic solutions. Carbon removal and especially solar geoengineering are only the latest example of such technologies. We here explore green moral hazards throughout American history. We argue that dismissing (solar) geoengineering on moral hazard grounds is often unproductive. Instead, especially those vehemently opposed to the technology should use it as an opportunity to expand the attention paid to the underlying environmental problem in the first place, actively invoking its opposite: ‘inverse moral hazards’.

Keywords: risk compensation; environmentalism; climate; carbon removal; geoengineering

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Gernot and Zizzamia, Daniel, Green Moral Hazards (July 8, 2020). NYU Wagner Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Gernot Wagner (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies ( email )

285 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Daniel Zizzamia

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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