Decision analysis for climate engineering research

Buckholtz, Michelle Carolina
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Technology solutions designed to manage climate change risk fall into three categories: mitigation, adaptation, and climate engineering. While mitigation and adaptation technologies are well established and have substantial public support as policy alternatives, climate engineering strategies remain mostly in the early stages of research and development. Both the further pursuit of research and eventual use of climate engineering technologies have been subject to moral and ethical objections. The intention of this report is to aid policy-makers in the decision as to whether society should pursue climate engineering research. This report identifies the unique characteristics which make climate engineering an important tool in the portfolio of strategies for managing climate change risks. Next potential benefits and costs associated with the technology are explored. The largest ethical objections to research and use of the technology are discussed and presented in a more consistent framework than found in existing literature. Finally, a model evaluating the sensitivity of the decision to pursue climate engineering research to two large ethical objections was built. Using outputs from an existing climate model, the analysis in this report adjusts the likelihood of the two ethical objections occurring across several scenarios to illustrate how the quality of the decision changes based on different assumptions about society.