Governance of Climate Engineering

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 220C (San Jose Convention Center)
Ted Parson, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
As evidence mounts of anthropogenic climate change underway and serious risks to come, and as efforts to limit emissions of greenhouse gases continue to stall, there has been a surge of attention the past few years to engineered interventions that can reduce radiative forcing and cool the Earth (on average) without reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  These interventions – typically called geoengineering, or climate engineering – pose an awful choice.  The climate-change risks already present or imminent are so serious, the ability to limit them by cutting emissions so slow (even if the world were suddenly to shift to serious efforts), and current efforts so non-serious, that climate engineering increasingly looks like a valuable, perhaps essential, tool to limit global environmental risks.   But these interventions do not solve the whole problem -- environmentally, or even climatically -- and raise many additional risks themselves.  They thus present challenges to control and governance, at both national and international levels, that are novel and severe.  I will discuss the risks these technologies pose, the governance challenges involved in managing these risks, the distinct near-term challenges of supporting and controlling field research experiments in climate engineering, and how these technologies might fit into a complete climate-change response strategy so as to reduce rather than increasing total societal risks.