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Smoke and mirrors: some reflections on the science and politics of geoengineering

Humphreys, David (2011). Smoke and mirrors: some reflections on the science and politics of geoengineering. Journal of Environment & Development, 20(2) pp. 99–120.

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This article identifies and explores some of the political issues that will need to be addressed in the governance of geoengineering. It is argued that the diversity of different possible geoengineering techniques—encompassing solar radiation management (SRM) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR), and further divided into territorial techniques and commons-based techniques—rules out a single mode of geoengineering governance. Whereas some geoengineering techniques may be effective when implemented by a small number of countries, others would need to be implemented around the globe and involve most countries of the world, with different countries having different comparative advantages in the various geoengineering techniques. Such an enterprise would generate collective action problems related to implementation and disagreements over who should pay for the financial and nonfinancial costs of geoengineering. Nonetheless, a more coherent system of geoengineering governance is possible and is necessary if international conflict is to be avoided and the risks of unintended consequences are to be minimized. Any new international institutional design on geoengineering will need to address some pressing political and scientific questions, including the desired mean temperature of the world’s climate, the possible role of CDR technologies in carbon offsets and emissions-trading schemes, and whether there should be differentiated obligations between different groups of states.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 Sage Publications
ISSN: 1552-5465
Keywords: carbon dioxide removal; geoengineering; global commons; governance; risk; solar radiation management
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Geography
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 29935
Depositing User: David Humphreys
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2011 12:14
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2019 05:27
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