Solar Geoengineering Futures: Interdisciplinary Research to Inform Decisionmaking
An RFF conference exploring the big questions surrounding solar radiation modification and its potential consequences for climate change
Solar geoengineering represents a set of risky and untested—yet potentially beneficial—technologies that could help address the growing risks of climate change, especially when paired with aggressive emissions mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, and climate resilience efforts. While interest has been growing in solar geoengineering, more physical climate and social science research is needed before policymakers consider developing deployment capability. Additionally, ongoing and robust public engagement with a diverse set of global stakeholders and communities is crucial, especially as the impacts may affect regions differently.
On September 28 and 29 Resources for the Future (RFF) hosted “Solar Geoengineering Futures: Interdisciplinary Research to Inform Decisionmaking”, a two-day conference focused on the key questions informing ongoing research and decisionmaking on solar geoengineering. This hybrid event featured an interdisciplinary group of leading solar geoengineering experts exploring the major challenges, uncertainties, and potential benefits related to this emerging set of technologies.
Agenda and Recordings
Thursday, September 28, 2023
10:00 a.m. | Coffee and Arrival
10:45 a.m. | Panel 1. Biophysical Impacts: Climatic and Non-climatic Risks and Benefits
The starting point for social science research on solar geoengineering (SG) is the biophysical parameters of a possible SG intervention. This session provided a grounding in SG knowns and unknowns, as well as ongoing research in this area.
Moderator: Peter Irvine
Panelists: John Moore, Daniele Visioni, Lili Xia, and Babatunde Abiodun
1:30 p.m. | Panel 2. Would Solar Geoengineering Crowd Out Emissions Cuts? The “Moral Hazard” Risk Examined A key concern about solar geoengineering research is the notion of “moral hazard” risk, where any movement to consider SG weakens the motivation to pursue mitigation. This session examined the latest social science research on SG moral hazard risk.
Moderator: Joe Aldy
Panelists: Talbott Andrews, Dave McEvoy, Christine Merk, and David Morrow
2:45 p.m. | Coffee break
3:05 p.m. | Panel 3. Solar Geoengineering’s Place within the Broader Climate Strategy Portfolio If solar geoengineering is deployed, it will likely occur alongside other key climate strategies, such as emission mitigation, CO2 removal, and adaptation. The aim of this session was to describe the role of SG under different development of mitigation and adaptation policies, assuming countries cooperate to fight climate change.
Moderator: Massimo Tavoni
Panelists: Mariia Belaia, Tony Harding, Doug MacMartin, and Simone Tilmes
4:20 p.m. | Day 1 Closing Remarks
4:30 p.m. | Reception
Please join us for a welcome reception concluding at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, September 29, 2023
9:00 a.m. | Panel 4. Plausible Non-optimal Near-term Solar Geoengineering Scenarios Several decades of experience with global coordination and cooperation around climate mitigation suggests that solar geoengineering might emerge in a non-optimal manner. This session examined how this might happen, what it might mean, and what actions might be warranted in the near term.
Moderator: Tyler Felgenhauer
Panelists: Beth Chalecki, Joshua Horton, Jessica Seddon, and Erin Sikorsky
10:15 a.m. | Coffee Break
10:35 a.m. | Panel 5. Capacity Building for Competent, Just, and Inclusive Decisionmaking As momentum around research and governance discussions is growing, questions arise around how we should make decisions around both research and potential deployment of solar geoengineering, and who is part of a decision-making process. This panel examined key steps to enabling and building meaningful engagement in this space.
Moderator: Shuchi Talati
Panelists: Julie Arrighi, Marion Hourdequin, Hassaan Sipra, and Billy Williams
1:30 p.m. | Panel 6. Important Next Steps for Policy and Research: A Solar Geoengineering Research Agenda for the Next Decade In this final panel, we brought together themes from the previous session in a discussion of funding and policy possibilities and priorities.
Moderator: Shannon Osaka
Panelists: Holly Buck, David Keith, Andy Parker, and Ted Parson
2:45 p.m. | Closing Remarks
About the Project
The Resources for the Future Solar Geoengineering research project applies tools from multiple social science research disciplines to better understand the risks, potential benefits, and societal implications of solar geoengineering as a possible approach to help reduce climate risk—in addition to more aggressive and necessary mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, and adaptation efforts. The project began in 2020 with a series of three expert workshops convened under the SRM Trans-Atlantic Dialogue. These meetings resulted in a 2021 article in Science that lays out a set of key social science research questions to pursue with solar geoengineering. The Project followed this by sponsoring eight research papers along with two author workshops, addressing several of these research areas. With these papers—and now this public symposium—we aim to engage with a broader set of researchers from around the globe, a growing number of interested stakeholders, and the public.
Journal Article — Nov 30, 2023
Inequality Repercussions of Financing Negative Emissions
A peer-reviewed paper by colleagues at the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment weighs in on how carbon dioxide removal technologies may exacerbate economic inequality.
Working Paper — Nov 20, 2023
Daily Temperature and Sales of Energy-using Durables
This working paper from the European Institute on Economics and the Environment examines whether temperature and other weather variables affect sales of dryers and air conditioning units.
Report — Nov 16, 2023
Tracking and Evaluation of Research, Development, and Demonstration Programs at the US Department of Energy
This report builds on a May 2023 RFF workshop that sourced experiences with and proposed best practices for developing the US Department of Energy's research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) capacity.