Logo for Climate Social Science Network (CSSN)

CSSN Working Group

The Politics of Geoengineering

Co-Chair: Jennie C. Stephens, Northeastern University, US

Co-Chair: Kevin Surprise, Mount Holyoke College, US

The Geoengineering Working Group of the Climate Social Science Network brings together scholars and others concerned with all aspects of the politics, power relations, and justice implications of geoengineering.

Geoengineering—a broad and contested term—refers to technological interventions that could slow global climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (carbon removal), or blocking incoming sunlight (solar radiation management).These technologies pose a range of novel questions for climate policy and climate justice. They have the potential to reduce some of the worst consequences of climate change, yet could also allow countries with high carbon emissions, major corporate polluters, and wealthy global consumers to avoid climate action and perpetuate business-as-usual. This working group aims to analyze and challenge the ways in which geoengineering technologies are being or could be deployed to enable climate delay and obstruction.

Key research questions include:

  • How do high-emissions actors use the promise of so-called ‘negative emissions technologies’ to avoid committing to absolute cuts in emissions?
  • How does the integration of carbon-dioxide removal in national and corporate climate policies impact frontline communities?
  • Who is promoting the development of climate geoengineering technologies, and whose interests are represented in this discussion?
  • How do climate geoengineering technologies relate to the longer histories of resource extraction and imperialism?