How Does Geoengineering fit with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change?


Implications of the Paris Agreement for Carbon Dioxide Removal and Solar Geoengineering (10 page pdf, Joshua B. Horton, David W. Keith, and Matthias Honegger, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Jul. 2016)

The Paris Agreement did not explicitly mention geoengineering as a solution, in addition to efforts to reduce carbon emissions, to the challenges involved in reaching the ultimate goal of end to global warming and a stable radiation equilibrium,. Geoengineering may be broken down into two approaches: carbon dioxide removal (CDR)  (as shown, for example, by carbon capture and sequestration) and solar radiation management (SRM) (as shown, for example, by the introduction of aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect incoming solar radiation). The authors of the paper reviewed here flag several indirect references to CDR in the Paris agreement as well as suggesting the inevitability of SRM, if there is any chance of meeting the very challenging objective of limiting warming to 1.5 C or less. They noted that CDR comes with a high short term cost while SRM does not but could limit warming to 1.5 C- although SRM comes with much more uncertainty when it comes to side effects and governance issues.

Schematic showing both terrestrial and geologi...

Schematic showing both terrestrial and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant. Rendering by LeJean Hardin and Jamie Payne. Source: http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/v33_2_00/research.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

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