Climate Change | Readout and Recommendations

Assessing Global Climate Engineering Governance

October 2015


The uncertainties around climate engineering often keep the topic off the discussion table, yet without proper discourse to devise the right governance structures, the uncertainties may become certain unwanted realities. The disparity between definitions of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) as separate means of climate engineering must be further elaborated.

CDR is a form of sequestration, whereas SRM is a form of interference with the climate system and would only be used if mitigation and CDR techniques are not successful. Nevertheless, there are still not the proper governance structures to determine when or how either method could or should be used. When or how CDR could be implemented relates more to questions of technology investment and measurement and verification. SRM deployment is more a question of should. Should SRM be needed, then a governance framework should already be in place before questions of when or how arise. Since one does not currently exist, a governance framework on climate engineering should be developed to alleviate risks on technology development for both CDR and safe research on SRM.

This policy dialogue brief looks at five elements for enhancing global climate engineering governance: the development of knowledge, assessing technology options and deployment pathways, building institutional capacity, decisions and regulations on deployment, and a technology investment mechanism.