Turning the Thermostat Down – Towards a Research Agenda for the Politics of Geoengineering
Can humankind slow down the increase of temperate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions as foreseen in action plans and commitments? Slow progress as documented in the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report and the consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine with the return to fossil energy production cast severe doubt on meeting the original goals. If such failure persists, the only alternative to limit the consequences associated with unchecked global warming is the ‘deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment’, which is the IPCC definition for geoengineering (or climate engineering). Geoengineering (GE) has already been discussed by scientists in the 20th century; for more than a decade also by policymakers and in parliaments, but there is almost no awareness about GE in the broader public. Social sciences are now catching up with studying the various aspects of GE: political, legal, economic and social. What is missing today, is a research agenda on the aspects and issues, which require in-depth and at the same time coordinated research in order to provide useful advice to decision-makers. This session will bring together experts and stakeholders to discuss the research agenda for the politics of geoengineering. Through a series of three sub-sessions, we will explore geoengineering’s role in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and public value, examine governance and international cooperation and delve into existing legal and regulatory aspects.
1. Geoengineering’s role in advancing SDGs & Public Value: This panel will focus on the potential of geoengineering to contribute to the SDGs and generate public value within the 2030 Agenda. It will examine various geoengineering techniques and their alignment with specific SDGs, such as climate action, affordable and clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities. The speakers will discuss the benefits, risks, and public value considerations associated with integrating geoengineering into the SDGs framework, emphasizing the need for comprehensive research and responsible implementation to ensure positive outcomes.
2. Governance and International Cooperation for Geoengineering: The panel will delve into the critical role of governance and international cooperation in the context of geoengineering due to the complex and interconnected nature of global climate challenges. It will explore the complexities of GE interventions, the need for appropriate governance frameworks, and the significance of international cooperation. Through an interdisciplinary lens, this session aims to foster dialogue and generate insights on effective global governance mechanisms for geoengineering that foster partnerships and international cooperation in GE.
3. Legal and Regulatory Aspects in Geoengineering: This panel aims to shed light on the existing legal gaps and challenges surrounding the regulation of GE, emphasizing the need for international cooperation to develop effective frameworks and instruments. It will stimulate further research and discussion on the development of international treaties, soft law instruments, and cooperation mechanisms to address the complex legal issues associated with GE. Ultimately, this session seeks to foster international collaboration and cooperation towards the establishment of a robust and comprehensive regulatory framework for responsible and accountable geoengineering practices, as well as respect for human rights.