Climate Engineering: Into the Great Wide Open?

Global efforts to limit carbon emissions are to date insufficient to prevent dangerous and rapid warming of the climate. If left unchecked, rising temperatures threaten disastrous consequences for human institutions and natural ecosystems, especially in the global South. As a consequence, increasing attention is being devoted to a series of potential responses that were once considered taboo—climate engineering. Climate engineering comprises large-scale technological schemes that would either enhance sequestration of carbon dioxide or block out a percentage of the sun’s radiation. These interventions hold both the promise of great benefits and potentially greater risks. 

The International Human Rights Clinic and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic hosted a panel to consider some of the legal, ethical and moral considerations related to the growing discussion around climate engineering research and deployment scenarios.  Panelists included Will Burns, Co-Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment; Jeff Goodell, Contributing Editor for Rolling Stone Magazine; and David A. Weisbach, Walter J. Blum Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Mark Templeton, Director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, moderated the discussion.