Essential Planetary Maintenance Engineering or Defence of the Global Economic Status-Quo? Exploring contending framings of climate geoengineering

Date: 23 Oct 2013
Speaker(s): Rose Cairns
Venue: University of Leeds

This seminar explored different ideas about what geoengineering means, examining ways in which it is being framed by those most active in these debates, and asked what the implications of various framings might be for the future development trajectories of these technologies, and climate policy more broadly.

The term ‘geoengineering’ has become massively more prominent in recent years, and is routinely used to describe a diverse raft of approaches to manipulating the global climate: from attempts to block a portion of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface (often referred to as solar radiation management), to attempts to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (often referred to as carbon dioxide removal, or negative emissions technologies).

Many of these approaches, rather than being operational ‘technologies’ as such, are still very much hypothetical ideas, or what have been referred to by STS scholars as ‘sociotechnical imaginaries’. Despite this, the idea of geoengineering appears to be gathering momentum on the global stage, as evidenced (for example) by the term’s appearance in the recent (AR5) IPCC Summary for Policymakers.

Chair: Dr George Holmes, Lecturer: Critical Environmental Social Science