What is it about?

Climate change is often viewed as an intergenerational transaction, wherein current generations adjust so that future generations can reap the benefits. However, convincing people to do this is an uphill task for policymakers and leaders. If delaying gratification is difficult, is it possible to deny gratification in terms of reaping environmental benefits for the sake of the future generations? This article offers a solution to this problem by highlighting the benefits of geoengineering. According to the author, current climate policies that require individual sacrifices of pleasures, luxuries, and freedom for climate change mitigation face two pertinent challenges: 1) ensuring the benefits of climate actions are hastened to benefit the current generations that are motivated to act altruistically, and 2) delaying the costs of climate action, so that the entire burden of shouldering the price of climate action is not for the current generation to bear alone. Geoengineering, the artificial manipulation of the climate, may contribute to climate policy due to its short-to-medium-term effects. Advances like negative emission technologies and solar radiation management, when combined with other active mitigation efforts, could present cheap and quick solutions to climate change. Although these are not feasible in the long term, they could slow down climate change temporarily and act as instant gratification for the current generations, busting the notion that the aged are making sacrifices for the younger generations without any returns.

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Why is it important?

Feeding the selfish needs of a population by using geoengineering technologies might not work for a very long time, but this can be used to motivate existing generations to adopt climate change mitigation efforts. Knowing that one can reap the benefit of their actions in their own lifetime would ensure that more individuals readily compromise, or at least rethink, their own needs and act to enforce the greater good. KEY TAKEAWAY While geoengineering technologies have been previously criticised for their lack of long-term feasibility, they can be employed to motivate current generations to assist in climate change mitigation efforts by showing them the benefits of reducing climate change.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Climate Change and Reversed Intergenerational Equity: the Problem of Costs Now, for Benefits Later, Climate Law, November 2020, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/18786561-10030002.
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