The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering

Abstract

The focus of climate policy so far has been on reducing the accumulation of greenhouse gases. That approach, however, requires broad international cooperation and, being expensive, has been hindered by free riding; so far, little action has been taken. An alternative approach is to counteract climate change by reducing the amount of solar radiation that strikes the Earth—“geoengineering.” In contrast to emission reductions, this approach is inexpensive and can be undertaken by a single country, unilaterally. But geoengineering also has worrying consequences: it may harm some countries; it would not address ocean acidification; it would pose new risks. The fundamental challenge posed by this new technology is not free riding but governance: who should decide if and under what circumstances geoengineering should be used?

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Correspondence to Scott Barrett.

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In my lecture to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, I gave an overview of my new book on global public goods (Barrett 2007), of which the topic of this paper is but one example. I have used the opportunity of this special issue to expand upon and recast my brief discussion of this topic as presented in my lecture and in the first chapter of this book

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Barrett, S. The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering. Environ Resource Econ 39, 45–54 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-007-9174-8

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Keywords

  • Geoengineering
  • Climate change
  • Governance
  • Free riding