01 September 2009
The Royal Society has published the findings of a major study into geoengineering the climate.
The study, chaired by Professor John Shepherd FRS, was researched and written over a period of twelve months by twelve leading academics representing science, economics, law and social science.
Man-made climate change is happening and its impacts and costs will be large, serious and unevenly spread. The impacts may be reduced by adaptation and moderated by mitigation, especially by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, global efforts to reduce emissions have not yet been sufficiently successful to provide confidence that the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change will be achieved. This has led to growing interest in geoengineering, defined here as the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change.
However, despite this interest, there has been a lack of accessible, high quality information on the proposed geoengineering techniques which remain unproven and potentially dangerous. This study provides a detailed assessment of the various methods and considers the potential efficiency and unintended consequences they may pose. It divides geoengineering methods into two basic categories:
The report recommends:
The Royal Society issued a call for submissions and convened a small ethics workshop as part of the evidence gathering process. More information is available in the main report.
Read the related press release here.
UPDATED March 2010 - The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is carrying out a public dialogue on geoengineering to assess public opinion on how future research relating to the subject should be directed, conducted and communicated. If you would like to take part in the dialogue the following link will take you to an online survey about geoengineering.
Related Royal Society publications:
Media coverage of the report includes: