Headline: European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering (EuTRACE)

European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering

Growing concern over the risks of climate change has led to increased interest in “Climate Engineering” (CE), sometimes also called “Geoengineering”. Climate engineering is rapidly gaining scientific, political, commercial and public attention as a possible response to climate change.

The two major CE technology categories currently include:

1. carbon dioxide removal (CDR), for example by enhancing the uptake of carbon dioxide by the biosphere, the ocean or by artificial means;
2. “solar radiation management” (SRM), for example by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere or brightening clouds to reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches earth.

Many uncertainties remain about the effectiveness and risks of CE. These include impacts on the environment, but also the potential socio-political consequences of intense scientific research itself, which might creat a false sense of security and could possibly derail efforts to reduce emissions (the so-called “moral hazard” of CE). 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 risks of climate change, or should its use be restricted to worst case (“climate emergency”) scenarios?

The EuTRACE project (European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering) was a response to these needs. It was formed to compliment other national and international assessments of CE, in particular through providing a distinctly European perspective that draws upon contributions from a range of scientific and non-expert stakeholders. The goal of EuTRACE was to assess the current state of knowledge on CE from the trans-disciplinary perspective of the natural sciences, engineering, economics, ethics, politics, and law, and to communicate the findings to a wide audience.

The specific aims of EuTRACE were:

  1. To pool top independent experts engaged in CE and climate change research across Europe to develop a next-generation assessment of (and assessment criteria for) the potential, uncertainties, risks and implications of various CE options. EuTRACE gathered the cutting-edge knowledge in the field and examined how CE relates to the ambitious climate targets of the EU and its member states.
  2. To actively engage in dialogue with the policy makers, civil society and the wider public across Europe to inform stakeholders about the benefits and perils, uncertainties and risks of climate engineering.
  3. To outline policy options and pathways for the EU and its partners to address the challenges CE poses. Based on assessing the most recent scientific knowledge as well as the perception and perspectives gathered through active dialogue, EuTRACE determined the most critically needed future research activities with regard to climate engineering. This included the role, if any, played by CE in global climate policies. Amongst other events, EuTRACE hosted a series of five science and policy briefings. For Further information see the reports below.
  4. To identify the most important gaps in curren understanding of CE. 14 partner organizations from Germany, the UK, Norway, France and Austria, ranging from the natural sciences & engineering, social sciences and the humanities joined forces to address these questions.

EuTRACE was a project within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union that was funded for 28 months from 01 June 2012 - 30 September 2014. It was coordinated by the IASS.


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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)