The Global Governance of Climate Engineering


The project „The Global Governance of Climate Engineering“ studies various Climate or Geo-engineering proposals from an interdisciplinary viewpoint and with regards to a global political regulation. The graduate college is structured to conjoin different scientific fields to answer the following research questions: Which technologies are feasible from a scientific and economic viewpoint? How do discourses on benefits and risks evolve and how is the topic taken on by the media? How are the suggestions debated within international institutions and how are decisions made on research and implementation? The involved disciplines comprise Human Geography, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Law, Environmental Physics and Economics.


Climate Engineering or Geoengineering denotes scientific concepts that aim at a manipulation of the global climate system either by intervening in the global carbon cycle or by shielding solar radiation. The former address the cause of global warming: fertilizing the oceans, chemical CO2 capture or massive reforestation may reduce the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Approaches of the latter group aim at a reduction of solar radiation to mitigate the consequences of climate change: techniques such as seeding clouds, the deployment of sulfur particles into the stratosphere or even installing mirrors in space promise to reduce global surface temperatures. The different concepts greatly vary in terms of technical feasibility, efficacy, costs and risks.


As a potential measure to support efforts to combat climate change Climate Engineering has increased the attention of scientists, political decision makers, the media, and the public over the last years. At the center of current debate is the ambivalent character of the technologies as they combine both, benefits and risks in terms of unintended consequences. Both are subject to different perceptions and evaluations by individuals, societies, and states. Likewise, a critical discussion can be seen as symptomatic for the global risk society of the 21st century that is confronted with the complex choice between technological possibilities, incalculable risks and political and social acceptance.


Such complex risk constellations require multilateral cooperation towards a suitable risk-benefit sharing. However, a global cooperation is exacerbated by the uncertainty concerning the risks of Geoengineering and by the economic and political fragmentation of the world society. Moreover, so far no legal or political agreements exist on an application of Geoengineering.


Not only the question of intergovernmental cooperation is highly relevant, but also the involvement of societal and economic protagonists in terms of global governance. The project sees itself as a contribution to an active debate on benefits and risks of various Geoengineering technologies by presenting its results not only to an expert audience but also to the wider public.


Subprojekt Economics

Subproject Geography

Subprojekt Philosophy

Subproject Psychology

Subproject Environmental Physics

Subproject International Law

Subproject International Politics

Subproject Political Economy


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Latest Revision: 2013-03-30
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