Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 85–104 | Cite as

The Intergenerational Transfer of Solar Radiation Management Capabilities and Atmospheric Carbon Stocks

  • Timo GoeschlEmail author
  • Daniel Heyen
  • Juan Moreno-Cruz


Solar radiation management (SRM) technologies are considered one of the likeliest forms of geoengineering. If developed, a future generation could deploy them to limit the damages caused by the atmospheric carbon stock inherited from the current generation, despite their negative side effects. Should the current generation develop these geoengineering capabilities for a future generation? And how would a decision to develop SRM impact on the current generation’s abatement efforts? Natural scientists, ethicists, and other scholars argue that future generations could be more sanguine about the side effects of SRM deployment than the current generation. In this paper, we add economic rigor to this important debate on the intergenerational transfer of technological capabilities and pollution stocks. We identify three conjectures that constitute potentially rational courses of action for current society, including a ban on the development of SRM. However, the same premises that underpin these conjectures also allow for a novel possibility: If the development of SRM capabilities is sufficiently cheap, the current generation may for reasons of intergenerational strategy decide not just to develop SRM technologies, but also to abate more than in the absence of SRM.


Geoengineering Climate change Intergenerational issues Strategic behavior 

JEL Classification

D9 O33 Q54 Q55 



We are grateful to the associate editor and three anonymous referees whose advice and comments have greatly improved the paper. We also owe thanks to audiences at the University of Kiel, the University of Alberta, Heidelberg University, the AUROE 2011 workshop, the EAERE 2011 Annual Conference, and the AERE 2012 Summer Conference. Funding for this research was provided through the project ”The Global Governance of Climate Engineering” at the Marsilius-Kolleg, Heidelberg University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.School of EconomicsGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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