Climatic Change

, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 513–525 | Cite as

Why geoengineering is not a ‘global public good’, and why it is ethically misleading to frame it as one

  • Stephen M. GardinerEmail author


In early policy work, climate engineering is often described as a global public good. This paper argues that the paradigm example of geoengineering—stratospheric sulfate injection (hereafter ‘SSI’)—does not fit the canonical technical definition of a global public good, and that more relaxed versions are unhelpful. More importantly, it claims that, regardless of the technicalities, the public good framing is seriously misleading, in part because it arbitrarily marginalizes ethical concerns. Both points suggest that more clarity is needed about the aims of geoengineering policy—and especially governance—and that this requires special attention to ethics.


Public Good Political Legitimacy Global Public Good Pure Public Good Climate Engineering 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is grateful for research support from the Environment Institute of the University of Washington College of the Environment, the Smith School for Energy and the Environment at Oxford University, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS), and the Center for Biological Futures (Prime Contract No. HHM 402-11-D-0017) at the University of Washington. He also thanks Simon Caney, Ben Gardiner, Lauren Hartzell Nichols, Clare Heyward, Dale Jamieson, Julian Savulescu, Henry Shue and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. The views expressed remain solely the responsibility of the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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