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NERC: Public Dialogue on Geoengineering Print E-mail
Friday, 15 January 2010 23:35


Public dialogue on geoengineering


NERC is carrying out a public dialogue on geoengineering to assess public opinion on how future research relating to the subject should be directed, conducted and communicated. We are working in partnership with Sciencewise-ERC, which supports public dialogue activities in government.

This work will be complementary to our existing research in climate change mitigation. As the recent Royal Society report on geoengineering states, the best way to tackle climate change is by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the report notes that "Unless future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are much more successful than they have been so far, additional action may be required should it become necessary to cool the Earth this century."

There is therefore a strong need to research different potential geoengineering options and their environmental, social and regulatory implications.

Through a series of workshops with members of the public, we will explore people's attitudes towards various potential geoengineering methods. At the workshops, participants will come together for up to three days to discuss the ethical, moral and social issues associated with the possible use of geoengineering methods to alter our environment. The dialogue workshops will also be supported by public debates and events around the UK.

Before the public dialogue activity gets underway, we would welcome your views on the direction it should take, and in particular on the questions:

  1. What are your hopes and concerns about the potential use of geoengineering technology?
  2. What questions should we ask people about the future of geoengineering research? What issues and options should be considered?

Please send your comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 15 January 2010 - we will take them into account when designing the dialogue process.

The results of the dialogue are expected in April 2010. NERC will use them when we update our research strategy in future. Emerging findings will also inform other geoengineering research funded, for example, under the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) programme.

What is geoengineering?

Geoengineering is "the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth's climate system, in order to moderate global warming," according to the Royal Society report published in September 2009†.

It includes technologies which could either remove CO2 from the atmosphere or reduce global temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into space.

NERC and other research councils already support a wide range of science relevant to this subject, but far more research is needed before any geoengineering method could be seriously considered for deployment.

† Geoengineering the climate. The Royal Society.