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EuTRACE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 306395
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Germany

Climate engineering: could it be done, should it be done?

A recent EU project has assessed various proposals for large scale climate engineering, interventions into the global climate system that are designed to reduce some of the effects of climate change. This project was the broadest and most inclusive project dedicated to the assessment of climate engineering proposals so far, in terms of scope of disciplines, nationalities, and backgrounds (academic, policy, civil society) involved.
Climate engineering: could it be done, should it be done?
Climate engineering is an umbrella term that refers to a set of proposals for reducing the degree of global warming and some of its impacts when deployed on large scale. Most climate engineering techniques can be distinguished into two broad categories: “greenhouse gas removal” proposals for reducing the rate of global warming by removing large amounts of CO2 or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequestering them over long periods; and “albedo modification” proposals for cooling the Earth’s surface by increasing the amount of solar radiation that is reflected back to space (“albedo” is the fraction of incoming light reflected away from a surface).

A broad and robust understanding of the topic of climate engineering would be valuable, were national and international policies, regulation and governance to be developed. This can be supported by coordinated, interdisciplinary research combined with stakeholder dialogue. To this end, the EU funded EUTRACE (European trans-disciplinary assessment of climate engineering) project brought together 14 partner organisations from five European countries (Germany, France, UK, Norway, Austria), with participating experts ranging from the natural sciences & engineering, social sciences and the humanities.

The EUTRACE assessment report provides an overview of a broad range of techniques that have been proposed for climate engineering. Research on climate engineering has thus far been limited, mostly based on climate models and small scale field trials. To illustrate the range of complex environmental and societal issues that climate engineering raises, the EUTRACE assessment focuses on three example techniques: bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), ocean iron fertilisation (OIF), and stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI).

The main project deliverable is a report that assesses the potentials, risks and uncertainties of climate engineering technologies within the broader context of discussions on climate change, mitigation and adaptation. The document covers natural science and engineering complexities, emerging societal issues, international regulation and governance, research options, and policy development for climate engineering.

The EUTRACE report is intended to complement other national and international assessments of climate engineering, in particular by providing a distinctly European perspective that draws upon contributions from a range of academic, policy, and civil society stakeholders. It thereby can serve as a basis for future discussions between the various stakeholders that hold an interest in climate engineering research and policy making.

Related information


Climate engineering, climate change, global warming, atmospheric carbon, global temperatures
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