Anticipatory Governance of Climate Engineering: Whether, What, How, Why?

Climate engineering (CE) is a quintessential anticipatory governance challenge, where the very need for governance and the contours of a potential governance field remain uncertain and politically contested.

ENP research in this area has thus explored the nature of this anticipatory governance challenge. Research has focused, inter alia, on near-term CE governance options; informal forms of de facto CE governance now underway and their political implications; and expert visions of equity in scientific modeling of solar geoengineering technologies.

Upcoming research foci:
Under this theme, we will continue to explore:

      • Diverse rationales for anticipatory governance of climate engineering (i.e. who is demanding what kind of governance, and to what end)
      • The potential role of the IPCC and its assessment reports in shaping climate engineering governance and policy directions
      • Whether and how transparency, widely promoted as a key CE governance principle, is being operationalized in governance and with what political consequences
      • Whether and how mainstreaming the consideration of climate engineering as a viable option in the climate action toolkit has a ‘mitigation deterrence’ effect

    On this last sub-theme, see the recently launched project CLENGOV being executed by Dr. Ina Moller. It critically analyzes the exchangeability of different climate policies to reach global temperature targets, and engages with the concept of ‘mitigation deterrence’. This refers to the possibility that actors may trade the option of lowering emissions now for removing ambient emissions or reducing incoming sunlight in the future. Empirically, it studies how actors who are highly relevant to global mitigation efforts are integrating ideas about climate engineering into their anticipatory climate policies, and whether this comes at the expense of emissions reductions.

    Research outputs

    Scientific articles:
    Möller, Ina. 2020. Political Perspectives on Geoengineering: Navigating Problem Definition and Institutional Fit. Global Environmental Politics, 20(2). Available here

    Gupta, Aarti and Ina Möller. 2019. De facto governance: how authoritative assessments construct climate engineering as an object of governance. Environmental Politics, 28(3), 480-501. Available here 

    Flegal, Jane and Aarti Gupta. 2018. Evoking equity as a rationale for solar geoengineering research? Scrutinizing emerging expert visions of equity. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18:1, 45-61. Available here 

    International climate engineering governance assessment:
    Governing Solar Radiation Management (An international assessment of near-term climate engineering governance options, produced by the 14-member Academic Working Group on Climate Engineering Governance)


    For further information about this international assessment process, and to download the full report, please click here.

    Earlier, related publications on anticipatory (risk) governance:

    Gupta, Aarti. 2011. An evolving science-society contract in India: the search for legitimacy in anticipatory risk governance. Food Policy, 36, 6: 736-741. Available here

    Jansen, Kees, and Aarti Gupta. 2009. Anticipating the Future: ‘Biotechnology for the Poor’ as Unrealized Promise? Futures, 41, 7: 436-445. Available here