The International Governance of Solar Geoengineering

Friday, February 17, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 309 (Hynes Convention Center)
Edward (Ted) Parson, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
Solar geoengineering presents a high-stakes, two-sided prospect: it may be able to substantially reduce risks associated with global climate change, or may present new and potentially severe risks, depending on how its development and potential future use are governed. Geoengineering-related challenges to international order will grow increasingly likely as climate impacts intensify, particularly if mitigation efforts remain weak. Such challenges could include not just commencement of geoengineering programs by major nations, but also assertions of rights to do so or charges that others are doing so, The global governance capabilities needed to deal with such challenges will be unprecedented, and developing them will require a lengthy process of assessment, consultation, and international trust-building. This process of governance development should begin soon, preferably as part of an integrated, strategic consideration of all elements of climate policy and their potential interactions. Governance development should proceed in parallel with, and co-evolve with, research on geoengineering methods, effects, and risks. The recent decision to marginalize geoengineering in the IPCC 1.5 degree report represents a significant missed opportunity to begin the needed joint pursuit of geoengineering governance and research. An alternative initiative to begin the needed governance deliberations would be the establishment of a high-level World Commission on Climate Engineering.