The international politics of geoengineering: The feasibility of Plan B for tackling climate change

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Geoengineering technologies aim to make large-scale and deliberate interventions in the climate system possible. A typical framing is that researchers are exploring a ‘Plan B’ in case mitigation fails to avert dangerous climate change. Some options are thought to have the potential to alter the politics of climate change dramatically, yet in evaluating whether they might ultimately reduce climate risks, their political and security implications have so far not been given adequate prominence. This article puts forward what it calls the ‘security hazard’ and argues that this could be a crucial factor in determining whether a technology is able, ultimately, to reduce climate risks. Ideas about global governance of geoengineering rely on heroic assumptions about state rationality and a generally pacific international system. Moreover, if in a climate engineered world weather events become something certain states can be made directly responsible for, this may also negatively affect prospects for ‘Plan A’, i.e. further obstruct an effective global agreement on mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)297-315
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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