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Climate Engineering Conference 2014

Date: May 19, 2014

Are climate engineering approaches fatally prone to error and misuse, and worth excluding from the climate conversation on both practical and moral grounds? Are they an emergency measure which could have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences if deployed? Could they be a relatively straightforward remedy for some of the consequences of climate change? And how should research aimed at these questions be regulated?

These questions, and many others raised by the prospect of climate engineering, involve diverse ethical, social, political and technical issues which are extraordinarily complex and incredibly interlinked. However, the research, policy, and civic communities have had few opportunities to collectively engage with the subject across a wide range of viewpoints. The organizers of this conference hope to provide a forum for vigorous exchange and creative dialogue, to bring new voices into these critical global discussions, and to examine how climate engineering intersects with other topics both within and outside of the climate change discussion.

The conference comes at an important moment in the governance of climate engineering and climate change in general:

  • The upcoming IPCC assessment report, which will be published in stages across 2013 and 2014, will address climate engineering, likely leading to a significant increase in both scientific discussion and popular media coverage of the subject.
  • The climate negotiations for a post-Kyoto regime ought to be finalized in 2015. The role of climate engineering in this process is undefined, yet particularly negative emission technologies may become relevant to achieve the agreed-upon political targets.
  • Many ongoing projects will have concluded or reached milestones shortly before the 2014 conference, including CGG, EuTRACE, the first phase of GeoMIP, the first year of the DFG Priority Programme, and the second year of the SCRiM (Sustainable Climate Risk Management) assessment of how best to balance mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering strategies.
  • Multiple studies by various governmental agencies, such as the US Government Accountability Office, the German Federal Environmental Agency and Federal Ministry of Education and Research, or various Parliamentary committees for technology assessment, will have been drafted or prepared, and the agencies involved will be planning their next steps.

The conference will provide a thorough and timely update on these (and other) developments in the field. The large-conference format can represent this rapidly expanding and evolving community, in its diversity and complexity of backgrounds and opinions, better than the smaller events such as workshops or week-long “schools” which have served as gathering points so far. CEC14 will also serve as an opportunity for a diverse audience of policy-makers, civil society organizations, and members of the public to critically engage with and expand upon current research which they would otherwise have little access to.