Towards an Analytical Framework for Evaluating the Ethical Dimensions of Geoengineering Proposals
In recent years, the role of climate geoengineering technologies within the portfolio of response options to anthropogenic climate change has been the subject of increased discussion. This renewed interest in the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment is largely due to the grossly unsuccessful attempts to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases, and therefore, to the appeal to consider alternative strategies to current climate change mitigation efforts. However, this so called plan B is inevitably conditioned by the limited understanding of the scientific basis of the climate science, and by major uncertainties regarding the impacts of these technologies on human and natural systems. Therefore, in spite of the conflicting arguments that prevail in the debates surrounding geoengineering technologies, there is widespread agreement on the need to consider the far reaching ethical, political and social questions that intentional climate change proposals entail. Although some attempts have been made to address this need (and to further ethical awareness amongst the scientific community), the development of an ethical framework that could inform policy responses to geoengineering research, deployment and governance is still missing.
In this sense, the overall objective of this paper is to address the need to develop an analytical framework that can contribute to an understanding of the social, ethical and equity issues raised by geoengineering proposals, i.e. one that can be used as the basis for further analysis into the development and implementation of appropriate governance mechanisms to steer both geoengineering research and deployment.
(By: Paula Curvelo European Commission - Joint Research Centre and Dr. Ângela Guimarães Pereira European Commission - Joint Research Centre )