Towards an Analytical Framework for Evaluating the Ethical Dimensions of Geoengineering Proposals

By Paula Curvelo.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Over the last few years, geoengineering, or the ‘deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system in order to moderate global warming’, has been attracting increasing attention within the portfolio of strategies to limit the impact and consequences of climate change. However, this ‘Plan B’ is inevitably conditioned by our limited understanding of the scientific basis of climate change and by major uncertainties as to the impact geoengineering might have on human and natural systems. Therefore, in spite of the controversy prevailing in the debates surrounding geoengineering technologies, there is widespread agreement on the need to consider the far-reaching ethical and social questions that proposals for intentional climate change entail. Although some attempts have been made to address this need (and to further ethical awareness in the scientific community), an ethical framework that could inform policy responses to geoengineering research, deployment and governance has yet to be developed. The overall objective of this paper, therefore, is to address the need to develop an analytical framework that can contribute to a better understanding of the ethical and social issues raised by geoengineering proposals and serve as a basis for further analysis, with a view to developing and implementing appropriate governance mechanisms to steer geoengineering research and deployment.

Keywords: Geoengineering, Ethical Framework, Climate Change, Earth System Science, Epochal Break, Anthropocene

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.191-208. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 257.126KB).

Paula Curvelo

European Commission - Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy

Paula Curvelo is a Ph.D student at the University of Lisbon. Since September 2010, she has been developing her research activities in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the European Commission – Joint Research Centre.

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