Headline: European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering (EuTRACE)

European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering

Growing concern over the difficulty of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions has led to increased interest in “Climate Engineering” (CE) also called “Geoengineering”. The two major CE technology categories currently include:

1. carbon dioxide removal (CDR), such as enhancing the uptake of carbon dioxide by the biosphere or by artificial means;
2. “solar radiation management” (SRM), i.e., counteracting global warming by reflecting additional solar radiation back into space.

Scoping assessments of CE schemes are largely confined to expert circles, although CE is rapidly gaining broader scientific, public, commercial and political attention. Many uncertainties remain about CE effectiveness and risks. These include the potential socio-political consequences of intense scientific research itself, such as creating a false sense of security which could possibly derail efforts to reduce emissions (the so-called “moral hazard” argument). The role of CE with respect to mitigation and adaptation in the overall climate change discussion also remains unclear: is CE just one more of the many viable approaches – if at all viable – to be deployed simultaneously in addressing the climate change challenge, or should its use be restricted to worst case (“climate emergency”) scenarios?

EuTRACE is a response to these needs. It is a project within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union that will be funded for 28 months, starting in June 2012, and coordinated by the IASS.

The goal of EuTRACE is to assess the current knowledge from the trans-disciplinary perspective of the natural sciences, engineering, economics, ethics, politics, and law, and to communicate the findings to a wide audience. Drawing on the expertise of 14 world-class institutions from five countries, EuTRACE will deliver the following:

• Assessment: EuTRACE will gather the cutting-edge knowledge in the field, interpreted by the top CE researchers, and in particular address the long-absent European perspective, examining how CE relates to the ambitious climate targets of the EU and its member states.

• Engagement: CE research and debates have so far been largely confined to a relatively small community of experts. EuTRACE will actively engage policy-makers, civil society and the wider public across Europe in dedicated dialogue events to inform stakeholders about the benefits and perils, uncertainties and risks of climate engineering.

• Pathways: Based on assessing the most recent scientific knowledge as well as the perception and perspectives gathered through active dialogue, EuTRACE will develop strategic pathways for policy development and determine the most critically needed future research activities with regard to climate engineering. This will include the role, if any, played by CE in global climate policies.

• Dissemination: EuTRACE will develop an online knowledge-sharing platform interlinked with social networks to widely distribute its findings in accessible language. Continuing its focus of proactive engagement, the platform will be designed as a two-way communication tool, facilitating the exchange of insights and perspectives of experts and the wide public alike into the evolving field of climate engineering.

 

The EuTRACE project team

Climate change is a cross-cutting issue, involving broad aspects of science and society. Consequently, holistically assessing the potential benefits and perils of climate engineering requires a matching range of competencies across a variety of fields.
For this purpose, the project will be led by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Science (IASS). The IASS has gathered several top scientists in the field of climate engineering working at world-class institutions in Germany, the UK, Norway, France and Austria as partners to jointly address the natural science and social challenges of climate engineering. The following partners will work on EuTRACE:

From Germany: 

  • The IASS: Mark Lawrence (scientific lead; solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal), Achim Maas (policy engagement and outreach), Wanda Born (project management and outreach), Sebastian Unger (climate governance)
  • adelphi: Irina Comardicea (public and policy dialogue and outreach), Paola Adriázola (public and policy dialogue and outreach), Dennis Tänzler (policy recommendations), Alexander Carius (policy engagement)
  • The Kiel Earth Institute (KEI): Gernot Klepper (economics of climate engineering), Alexander Proelß (international environmental law and governance), Andreas Oschlies (carbon dioxide removal and oceanography)
  • The Klima Campus Hamburg (KCH): Hauke Schmidt (solar radiation management, coordinator of the EU FP7 IMPLICC project); Jürgen Scheffran (risk analysis and security policy)
  • The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT): Thomas Leisner (atmospheric science), Gregor Betz (philosophy and argument analysis)

From the UK:

  • The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (UEA) (headquartered at the University of East Anglia): Naomi Vaughan (atmospheric science, science/policy interface and dissemination),Tim Rayner (climate governance); Asher Minns (communication strategy/dissemination), Jason Chilvers (stakeholders and governance issues), Andrew Jordan (environmental governance)
  • The University of Exeter (UNEXE): Tim Lenton (earth system modeling and co-evolution of life and environment), Jim Haywood (atmospheric science, in particular aerosols),Patrick Devine-Right (social and psychological perspectives), Richard Owen (risk assessment and governance)
  • Bristol University (BU): Matt Watson (atmospheric natural hazards)
  • The University of Edinburgh (UEDIN): Stuart Haszeldine (carbon capture and storage and Simon Shackley (innovation and technology studies), Vivian Scott (ocean carbon cycle)

From Norway:

  • The University of Oslo (UiO): and Jon Egill Kristjansson (atmospheric science), Kari Alterkær (aerosol cloud interactions)
  • The Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MetNo): Michael Schulz (atmospheric science)
  • The Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO): Asbjörn Aaheim (economics), and Anne Therese Gullberg (political science).

From France:

  • The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS-LMD): Olivier Boucher (Earth System modeling)

From Austria:

  • The University of Graz (UG): Lukas Meyer (ethics of climate change and climate engineering), Harald Stelzer (normative political theory)