Public engagement on solar radiation management and why it needs to happen now

Abstract

There have been a number of calls for public engagement in geoengineering in recent years. However, there has been limited discussion of why the public should have a say or what the public can be expected to contribute to geoengineering discussions. We explore how public engagement can contribute to the research, development, and governance of one branch of geoengineering, solar radiation management (SRM), in three key ways: 1. by fulfilling ethical requirements for the inclusion of affected parties in democratic decision making processes; 2. by contributing to improved dialogue and trust between scientists and the public; and 3. by ensuring that decisions about SRM research and possible deployment are informed by a broad set of societal interests, values, and framings. Finally, we argue that, despite the nascent state of many SRM technologies, the time is right for the public to participate in engagement processes.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although attributed to Stirling (2005) in the SRMGI (2013) report, these rationales for public engagement date back to Fiorino (1990).

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the US National Science Foundation (grant number SES 0958095) and the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (SES-0949710), through a cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research. W.C. is funded by a US Environmental Protection Agency STAR PhD Fellowship. The authors would like to thank Maialen Galarraga, Phil Macnaghten, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.

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Correspondence to Wylie A. Carr.

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This article is part of a special issue on “Geoengineering Research and its Limitations” edited by Robert Wood, Stephen Gardiner, and Lauren Hartzell-Nichols.

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Carr, W.A., Preston, C.J., Yung, L. et al. Public engagement on solar radiation management and why it needs to happen now. Climatic Change 121, 567–577 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0763-y

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Keywords

  • Public Participation
  • Public Perception
  • Public Engagement
  • Engagement Process
  • Solar Radiation Management