Climate Engineering Governance

Achieving global temperature targets stated at international climate talks — holding global heating to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — will likely require some form of climate engineering (CE), intentional interventions that would modify the global climate system in order to offset some of the harms from climate change.

Since 2017, the Emmett Institute has studied the governance of CE technologies through a project led by Edward Parson, Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law and Emmett Institute faculty co-director, and supported by a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project.

Emmett Institute faculty members study questions for CE governance, such as what risks small-scale CE research projects might pose; how CE interacts with other climate policies; what capabilities will be needed for control of future proposals for CE deployment; and potential international governance measures.

In addition to publishing research in academic journals, Parson and a team of research fellows have briefed policymakers at state and national levels on governance of CE; led workshops with policymakers and academics on CE governance questions; and helped shape public understanding of these issues through events, Legal Planet blog posts, and media interviews.

The project also provides education opportunities for students and early-career professionals. In collaboration with several other research organizations, Parson organizes and leads a biannual, weeklong international summer school with CE experts and early-career researchers and professionals.

UCLA Law students engage with CE issues through courses in international environmental law and future law. The new edition of Parson’s textbook with Andrew E. Dessler, The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change, provides students an introduction to CE law and governance issues.

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