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Environmental Values

Can We Have It Both Ways? On Potential Trade-Offs Between Mitigation and Solar Radiation Management

Christian Baatz

Environmental Values 25 (2016): 29-49. doi: 10.3197/096327115X14497392134847

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Many in the discourse on climate engineering agree that if deployment of solar radiation management (SRM) technologies is ever permissible, then it must be accompanied by far-reaching mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This raises the question of if and how both strategies interact. Although raised in many publications, there are surprisingly few detailed investigations of this important issue. The paper aims at contributing to closing this research gap by (i) reconstructing moral hazard claims to clarify their aim, (ii) offering one specific normative justification for far-reaching mitigation and (iii) investigating in greater detail different mechanisms that could potentially cause a trade-off between mitigation and SRM. I conclude that the empirical evidence questioning the trade-off hypothesis is inconclusive. Moreover, theoretical reflections as well as economic model studies point to a trade-off. In our current epistemic situation these findings must be taken seriously. They caution against researching and developing SRM technologies before measures to avoid or minimise a trade-off are implemented.


Solar radiation management, mitigation, moral hazard, climate engineering, trade-off.

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption. Stephen M. Gardiner

Some Early Ethics of Geoengineering the Climate: A Commentary on the Values of the Royal Society Report. Stephen M. Gardiner

Climate Engineering and the Cessation Requirement: The Ethics of a Life-Cycle . Christopher J. Preston

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: The Ethics of Engineering the Climate. Christian Baatz, Clare Heyward and Harald Stelzer

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