Clare Heyward

Values for Geoengineering Governance

Geoengineering as a response to anthropogenic climate change is of increasing interest to members of the scientific community.  The challenges of developing technologies powerful enough to manipulate the global climate are considerable and varied.   As well as the scientific and technical issues, many people (understandably) have concerns about geoengineering.  Hence issues of governance are key. As the technologies are in their infancy, it is futile at present to propose detailed regulatory structures, but one place to start is to discuss the  values by which the development of geoengineering technologies must be guided.   The Oxford Principles, originally proposed in 2009, were one of the first attempts to do so.

A paper now out in the journal Climatic Change, available here, gives an explanation of the values behind the Oxford Principles: Continue reading

Why I study geoengineering

I guess I should say, firstly, that I don’t.  Or at least, not directly.  I am a research fellow looking at the ethics and governance issues: the moral and political implications of geoengineering research and eventual deployment, should there be any.  I have a long-standing interest in global justice and climate change.  Climate change raises enough moral and political questions and I never thought any subject could be more complex until I heard about geoengineering.  Information about geoengineering can be found on the Oxford Geoengineering Programme’s new website:  http://www.geoengineering.ox.ac.uk/   Continue reading

To 1750 – or beyond?

At the current Conference of the Parties in Durban, Libya proposed an ambitious scheme which, it claims, will not only halt, but reverse global warming.   (See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0f852f8c-1d00-11e1-a26a-00144feabdc0.html?ftcamp=rss#axzz1fff3AXgX)

 Effectively, the “Libyan Climate Change Initiative” will turn the Sahara desert, and perhaps the Arabian and other deserts, into a giant wind-farm.  But not your average of wind-farm.  This wind-farm is one which first creates wind out of solar power and then uses it to drive giant wind turbines.   Continue reading

What is feasible?

Climate change raises questions of global distributive justice and I am interested in what kinds of actions might be considered as fair responses.  Recently, I have observed that some accounts of climate justice have been dismissed for being “infeasible”.  I have started to wonder what this means.   In ordinary language, “feasible” might mean “possible” or “likely”, even “easy” or “inexpensive”  - with infeasible meaning the opposite.   What kind of criticism is it to say that an account of climate justice, for example, the distribution of equal per capita shares of greenhouse gas emissions is “infeasible”?  It might be presented as an empirical claim: that such a proposal will not be acted upon, or, at least, is unlikely to be acted upon.  This does not mean that the account is lacking on normative grounds.  People are not always that good at being good.      Continue reading

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