The Politics of Geoengineering

Chairs: Ina Möller (Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands) and 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.


Some initial topics for this working group to explore:


  • How and to what extent do actors who produce substantial amounts of greenhouse gases use the promise of so-called ‘negative emissions technologies’ and ‘net-zero’ to avoid committing to absolute cuts in emissions?
  • What consequences does the wide-spread integration of carbon-dioxide removal in national and corporate climate policies have for frontline-actors such as small-scale land-owners, indigenous communities and people of colour?
  • Who is promoting and shaping the discussion around the development and use of climate geoengineering technologies, and whose interests are represented in this discussion?
  • How do climate geoengineering technologies relate to the longer history of the global political economy including resource extraction, imperialism and the accumulation of capital?


A first virtual meeting of the WG members and others who may be interested in joining it will discuss its format and structure, and collectively decide on future steps for the development of a collaborative research agenda.