News

Is climate geoengineering moving forward in the US? And what are the dangers?

Published on
March 31, 2021

Prof. Aarti Gupta is a professor of global environmental governance at the Environmental Policy group. She features in a recent piece by Huffington post, "Geoengineering the climate just became more of a real possibility in the U.S." by Alexander Kaufman (March 25, 2021). The article comments on a just released report by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance (2021).

U.S. National Academy of Sciences report on ''Reflecting Sunlight..."

The article comments on a just released report by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance (2021), which calls for the launch of an exploratory research programme in the US to study solar geoengineering.

The recent Huffington Post article, Geoengineering The Climate Just Became More Of A Real Possibility In The U.S. (2021) responds to this NAS report. In a future world of potentially dangerous climate change, and one where full decarbonization or carbon neutrality may not be realized in time, some view solar engineering technologies as a potential future technical 'solution' to cool the planet.

But manipulating the atmosphere and cooling the planet is an endeavor fraught with risks. Moreover, it raises complex geo-political and global governance challenges.

In this piece, Prof. Gupta emphasizes the necessity to have 'international political deliberation of whether to even launch exploratory research programs.'

International governance of solar geoengineering is really where the challenge lies.
Prof. Aarti Gupta

She emphasizes that moving forward with research without having international governance structures in place is dangerous, "And this is not pie-in-the-sky and to be dismissed but really where the challenge lies. We cannot put off international, multilateral political control over these early stages of research and deliberation."

More information about Prof. Gupta’s research

In a recent article on solar geoengineering governance, Prof. Gupta and her co-authors analyze rationales to govern solar geoengineering, showing how these vary widely and can even be fundamentally opposed. Should governance of solar geoengineering seek to enable or restrict further research and potential future use of these still speculative technologies?

Anticipatory governance of solar geoengineering: conflicting visions of the future and their links to governance proposals

Read it here (open access)

Prof. Gupta has also argued, in another widely cited article, written with ENP postdoctoral researcher Dr. Ina Möller, that expert assessment reports (such as NAS reports) can become a source of de facto governance of climate engineering, in the absence of formal, politically negotiated international governance arrangements.

De facto governance: how authoritative assessments construct climate engineering as an object of governance

Read it here (open access)