Solar geoengineering may lead to excessive cooling and high strategic uncertainty

  • Anna Lou Abatayo, Valentina Bosetti, Marco Casari, Riccardo Ghidoni, Massimo Tavoni
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1916637117

Geoengineering the climate presents unsolved governance challenges

Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

What is it about?

Climate engineering provides solutions that directly affect the incoming radiation from the sun and are able to rapidly offset the temperature increase. These technologies open new scenarios for the management of climate change. As they have never been deployed, though, many risks and unknown exist. This study uses lab experiments to shed light on the human factors related to the governance of geoengineering at the national and international level.

Why is it important?

Solar geoengineering is a technology that allows countries to unilaterally influence the world temperature. When used, it could trigger conflicting interventions by countries who prefer different temperatures. We find that those countries wanting a cooler climate impose it on others by producing too much geoengineering and increasing inequality across countries. Other countries may react through counter-geoengineering interventions. We report that such interventions create highly volatile outcomes in terms of temperatures, which lead to considerable economic losses.

Perspectives

Marco Casari
Universita degli Studi di Bologna

This research highlights the necessity of strong institutions to solve global environmental challenges. It shows the relevance of the human factor -both rational and irrational- for climate decision making in general not just climate engineering. Social sciences can play an important role in the understanding of geoengineering. If major issues of governance emerge, as it is evident from this study, the identification of appropriate international rules would enable to correct them before any field implementation. ### PRESS REPORT https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-06/cf-e-thf052820.php

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1916637117

The following have contributed to this page: Marco Casari