Abstract

Geoengineering technologies are by definition only effective at scale, and so international policy development of some sort will be unavoidable. It is therefore important to include governability as a dimension when assessing the technologies’ feasibility and potential role in addressing climate change. The few existing studies that address this question indicate that for some technologies, policy development at the international level could be exceedingly difficult. This study provides an in-depth, theoretically informed analysis of the obstacles that policymakers face when addressing geoengineering governance. Using data in the form of negotiation proceedings, observations, and interviews with government officials from seven different countries, it argues that a significant part of the challenge lies in dissonances between problem definitions that are widely used in the geoengineering governance debate and the structures and expectations that shape environmental policy making. These include a lack of institutional fit between the process-based differentiation of geoengineering technologies (carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management) and the international legal architecture, a lack of fit between the urgency of demanded governance action and prevalent scientific and political uncertainties, and a lack of fit between risk–risk trade-off narratives and the precautionary norms of environmental governance.

In recent years, suggestions to use geoengineering technologies to counter the climate crisis have spawned a dynamic debate among scientists and other nonstate actors.1 Prominent studies project that removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and/or reflecting incoming sunlight at scale could become tools in slowing down climate change (Rogelj et al. 2018; Irvine et al. 2019). But because the economic incentives to develop and deploy these technologies within projected time frames are lacking, scientific authorities like the British Royal Society (2018) and the US National Academy of Sciences (2015) recommend government support to stimulate research and economic investment. Meanwhile, the European Academies Science Advisory Council warns that overoptimistic expectations about carbon dioxide removal technologies (CDR) could have serious social and ecological side effects and that decision makers should be prudent when considering them as policy options (European Academies Science Advisory Council 2018). Multidisciplinary assessments of solar radiation management technologies (SRM) express comparable warnings, recommending anticipatory governance to manage research trajectories and highlighting the need for multistakeholder engagement at the international level (Chhetri et al. 2018).

How do such recommendations for geoengineering governance resonate with policymakers? The few studies that examine this question show that government actors across the ideological board express concerns about technical feasibility and risk but also about the political difficulties of governing geoengineering technologies. Huttunen et al. (2014) conclude that clear differences in the framing of geoengineering-related policy documents between the United States and Germany promise significant difficulties for international policy development. Himmelsbach (2018) finds that scientists who advise the European Commission anticipate problems of distributive justice and the general complexity of governing climate change. And in their survey of US-based environmental policy professionals, Talati and Higgins (2019) find a prevalent assessment that governance at the national or international level will be significantly more difficult than at the institutional or scientific level.

The anticipated political difficulties pose a significant problem in the face of recommendations to govern these emerging technologies. Geoengineering, in the form of both CDR and SRM, is by definition only effective at scale and will eventually require international engagement of some sort. It is therefore imperative that the governability of these technologies be included in assessments of whether and how they can offer effective responses to climate change.

This study provides an in-depth, theoretically informed analysis of the challenges that policymakers face when creating governance mechanisms for geoengineering. Notably, it draws on key-informant interviews with government officials who are already familiar with geoengineering. They provide valuable insights about how policymakers reflect on geoengineering technologies and the methods by which they try to make them governable. The study discusses both CDR and SRM to better understand policymakers’ reasoning around commonalities such as scale, international collaboration, and anticipatory nature.

In the theory section, I suggest an analytical framework that conceptualizes the creation of new institutions as a process in which policymakers need to create “institutional fit” between an existing problem definition and the context in which they work. In the methods section, I explain how I use policy-relevant literature to identify common problem definitions in the expert debate on geoengineering governance as well as interviews, observations of deliberations, and negotiation proceedings to study the performance of these problem definitions in a policy-making context. In the analysis, I give an overview of common problem definitions and then apply the analytical framework to three areas where a widely spread problem definition appears to lack institutional fit. The conclusions summarize and suggest pathways forward.

Problem Definition and Institutional Fit

Problem definition and institutional fit are concepts that highlight the importance of structure for individual action. They also allow the researcher to examine how an actor navigates and changes the structures that surround them, thereby expressing agency. Introducing such a dual-nature perspective is necessary for scholars to go beyond understanding the internal structures of expert-driven discourses on geoengineering (e.g., Anshelm and Hansson 2014; Talati and Higgins 2019). To understand what these discourses mean for the policy-making process, it is necessary to examine their performance in an institutional context.

The concept “problem definition” describes the way in which an issue is defined to inform the shape and content of a policy or institutional setup. Its function in a political discourse is “at once to explain, to describe, to recommend, and above all, to persuade” (Rochefort and Cobb 1994, 15). The concept is used in constructivist, postmodernist, and policy analysis literature to emphasize the importance of language for understanding the dynamics of policy making. Importantly, it highlights that at the level of language, social problems are malleable, and that actors can use problem definitions to steer the course of a given political development.

Problem definition is usually applied in analyses of how politicians and journalists frame a social issue in the media. In this context, dimensions like magnitude, severity, proximity, and crisis play an important role in determining whether a social issue makes it onto the policy agenda (Rochefort and Cobb 1994). The purpose of this study, however, is to understand what happens when a given problem definition, already predefined by experts or advocates, meets the institutional context of policymakers. To study this process, I follow the assumptions of organizational theorists James March and Johan Olsen (2011), who argue that political actions are determined by a logic of contextual appropriateness. Policy making is a process of collective negotiation and takes place in an environment structured by laws, bureaucratic procedures, expectations, and values. In addition to their own preferences, policymakers need to take into account these structures when creating new institutions.

To describe the necessity of matching problem definitions and institutional context, I borrow the term institutional fit from Lejano and Shankar (2013). In their theory of institutional contextualism, the authors highlight problems that arise when a generic blueprint of an institutional structure is applied to a local context without accounting for the specific conditions of that context.2 They write that “the ability to tailor programs to the particular needs of a target community has become a central tenet in the literature on designing institutions under complexity” (84). These “target communities,” I argue, can be found at all stages of institution building. The process of creating institutional fit happens not only among local implementers who adapt international programs to their given circumstances but also among policymakers who engage with problem definitions delivered by the scientific community or other governance advocates. Institution building is characterized as a “constant dialectic” between the problem definition and the context in which this definition needs to be translated into a governance mechanism.

Combining problem definition and institutional fit creates an analytical framework that focuses on the role of an agent in relation to their structural context (Figure 1). It assumes that agency exists in the agent’s capacity to understand the relation between a given problem definition and the bureaucratic, legal, or normative structures within which this problem would need to be addressed. Further agency exists in the capacity to create institutional fit by adapting the problem definition and/or parts of the institutional context to facilitate the creation of new governance mechanisms. In the process, the adaptation of problem definitions and institutional context can be done strategically to shape the resulting governance mechanism according to the agent’s preferences.

Figure 1 

Analytical Framework for Studying Institutional Fit

Figure 1 

Analytical Framework for Studying Institutional Fit

Whether this adaptation process eventually leads to a new institution is subject to contextual factors. They include the size in discrepancy between problem definition and institutional context, the ease with which the problem definition or institutional context can be adapted, the degree of homogeneity in the preferences of agents involved in the negotiation process, the commitment of participating agents to finding a solution, and external developments that may impede or facilitate the decision-making process (think “windows of opportunity,” as discussed in Kingdon’s 1984 theory of the policy cycle). Creating institutional fit is always accompanied by other political processes that must be taken into account when explaining success or failure in creating new governance mechanisms.

The analytical framework focuses on one process within the larger policy-making cycle, namely, what policymakers do when they are confronted with a problem definition delivered by experts or advocates and how they try to make this problem governable. Particularly in technical areas, such as climate change or environmental policy more generally, scientific discourse plays a central role in delivering problem definitions and has been shown to take substantial influence on the shape of governing institutions. Allan (2017) demonstrates this for the case of climate change in general, and Boettcher (2019) argues that it is also the case for geoengineering. The purpose of analyzing the interface between science and policy through a theoretical lens of institutional fit is to highlight the agency that policymakers have in making the problem definitions of scientific discourse governable.

Methods

Identifying Problem Definitions

To identify important geoengineering problem definitions, I analyze thirteen geoengineering assessments written for policymakers. These were published between 2010 and 2019 by nonstate actors (only the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] is included as a semistate actor). The variety of authoritative scientific bodies, committees, and nonprofit organizations distributing these assessments supplies a reasonably broad net for capturing problem definitions. Yet all reports were written in English, and the results are limited to the English-speaking discussion on geoengineering.

I follow the analytical framework suggested by Armeni and Redgwell (2015), asking what geoengineering is defined as, why it is considered a problem, how and when the problem should be solved, and who should be responsible. These questions are analyzed for each assessment and systematically compared to find overarching commonalities. A clear answer to each question was frequently provided in the introduction, executive summary, or early parts of the assessment. In the case of the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, the analysis focused on the sections discussing geoengineering technologies (section 1.4, “Strengthening the Global Response,” and chapter 4, “Strengthening and Implementing the Global Response”).

Table 1 provides a summary of the most prominent problem definition in each assessment. These summaries are not comprehensive or complete but aim to capture the strongest overarching message. They are grouped according to similarity of problem definition and similarity of policy proposal. This means that in problem definition 1, reports that expressly refrain from judging the desirability of geoengineering technologies are grouped together with reports that express their possible necessity. The reason for this is that all of these reports strongly recommend dedicated institution building around one or several geoengineering technologies to prepare for any eventualities. Furthermore, they do not display the explicit focus on mitigation deterrence or scientific agnosticism that characterizes problem definitions 2 and 3.

Table 1 
Problem Definitions Used in Geoengineering Assessments
Summary of Problem Definition2010–20122015–201720182019Policy Proposal
1: Geoengineering may be inevitable; we need to prepare for it. Bipartisan Policy Center 2011: Climate remediation is characterized by uncertainties in risk, cost, and physical limitations but may be needed in case of emergency. US National Academy of Sciences 2015: Mitigation will not be enough. Large-scale CDR is needed. Albedo modification is still uncertain but could be needed (or used by others) in the event of a climate emergency. UK Royal Society 2018: Emissions reductions will not be enough. Greenhouse gas reduction technologies are needed in the second half of the century but are not yet well understood. Chhetri et al. 2018: The growing conversation about SRM calls for robust anticipatory governance, no matter whether one supports or disapproves of the technology. Stavins and Stowe 2019: It is a matter of time before countries or other actors attempt to deploy solar geoengineering. C2G2 2019: The urgency of climate change makes consideration of geoengineering necessary but raises concerns about ecological impacts, moral hazard, institutional lock-in, and unilateral deployment, requiring governance. Invest in and up-scale CDR technologies. Build knowledge, institutions, and capacity at multiple levels to prevent or manage unilateral or multilateral use of SRM (excluding a moratorium). 
2: Geoengineering is a dangerous distraction; we should not count on it. ETC group 2010: If rich governments and industry warm to geoengineering as a solution to climate change, their money and technologies will no longer be available for adaptation and mitigation in the Global South. Wetter and Zundel 2017: Geoengineering is being normalized as virtually inevitable by an exclusive group of experts, while developing countries, indigenous peoples, and local communities are left voiceless. EASAC 2018: The lack of recognition in public and political debate about the severity of emission reductions required to reach 2°C or 1.5°C could be due to overoptimistic expectations about CDR technologies. CIEL 2019: Geoengineering technologies, both CDR and SRM, rely on and cater to the interests and infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. They also carry high risks and prevent systemic change. Place all efforts on mitigation. Allow for some geoengineering research, but only in combination with inclusive international discussions on the realistic role of these technologies. Enable a moratorium on outdoor experimentation and deployment of SAI. 
3: Geoengineering is an existing option, with many uncertainties. IPCC 2012: The ambiguity around geoengineering makes productive discussion difficult. Risks and impacts should be assessed within a context of risks and impacts of climate change and other responses, such as mitigation and adaptation. EuTRACE 2015: Despite increasing presence in conversation, it is not clear whether climate engineering can ever be used to reduce climate change, for both physical and social reasons. IPCC 2018: Achieving the 1.5°C target will be subject to high costs. Using CDR or SRM may reduce those costs but could have serious implications for sustainable development and are subject to knowledge gaps.   Keep all options open, maintain a holistic perspective, and fill knowledge gaps to facilitate decision-making. 
Summary of Problem Definition2010–20122015–201720182019Policy Proposal
1: Geoengineering may be inevitable; we need to prepare for it. Bipartisan Policy Center 2011: Climate remediation is characterized by uncertainties in risk, cost, and physical limitations but may be needed in case of emergency. US National Academy of Sciences 2015: Mitigation will not be enough. Large-scale CDR is needed. Albedo modification is still uncertain but could be needed (or used by others) in the event of a climate emergency. UK Royal Society 2018: Emissions reductions will not be enough. Greenhouse gas reduction technologies are needed in the second half of the century but are not yet well understood. Chhetri et al. 2018: The growing conversation about SRM calls for robust anticipatory governance, no matter whether one supports or disapproves of the technology. Stavins and Stowe 2019: It is a matter of time before countries or other actors attempt to deploy solar geoengineering. C2G2 2019: The urgency of climate change makes consideration of geoengineering necessary but raises concerns about ecological impacts, moral hazard, institutional lock-in, and unilateral deployment, requiring governance. Invest in and up-scale CDR technologies. Build knowledge, institutions, and capacity at multiple levels to prevent or manage unilateral or multilateral use of SRM (excluding a moratorium). 
2: Geoengineering is a dangerous distraction; we should not count on it. ETC group 2010: If rich governments and industry warm to geoengineering as a solution to climate change, their money and technologies will no longer be available for adaptation and mitigation in the Global South. Wetter and Zundel 2017: Geoengineering is being normalized as virtually inevitable by an exclusive group of experts, while developing countries, indigenous peoples, and local communities are left voiceless. EASAC 2018: The lack of recognition in public and political debate about the severity of emission reductions required to reach 2°C or 1.5°C could be due to overoptimistic expectations about CDR technologies. CIEL 2019: Geoengineering technologies, both CDR and SRM, rely on and cater to the interests and infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. They also carry high risks and prevent systemic change. Place all efforts on mitigation. Allow for some geoengineering research, but only in combination with inclusive international discussions on the realistic role of these technologies. Enable a moratorium on outdoor experimentation and deployment of SAI. 
3: Geoengineering is an existing option, with many uncertainties. IPCC 2012: The ambiguity around geoengineering makes productive discussion difficult. Risks and impacts should be assessed within a context of risks and impacts of climate change and other responses, such as mitigation and adaptation. EuTRACE 2015: Despite increasing presence in conversation, it is not clear whether climate engineering can ever be used to reduce climate change, for both physical and social reasons. IPCC 2018: Achieving the 1.5°C target will be subject to high costs. Using CDR or SRM may reduce those costs but could have serious implications for sustainable development and are subject to knowledge gaps.   Keep all options open, maintain a holistic perspective, and fill knowledge gaps to facilitate decision-making. 

Studying Institutional Fit

To study the performance of geoengineering problem definitions in a policy-making context, I apply a form of deliberative policy analysis as discussed by Frank Fischer in Hajer and Wagenaar (2003). This interpretive approach brings together a wide range of data and emphasizes the assessment of a problem in its particular context. It requires studying deliberations and moments of contestation in the concrete, everyday practices and activities of political decision makers. The method aims to “tease out” the normative conflicts that underlie different interpretations of the same goal, seeking to enable constructive action based on given circumstances.

The analyzed data include interviews with government officials, negotiation proceedings, and observations of deliberations. Interviews were conducted with eight government officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Kenya, and China. All interviewees had engaged with geoengineering in the context of their work and had a good understanding of their government’s procedures and positions at both national and international levels. Some worked toward informing their government’s policy on energy, environment, or climate change; others were involved in the negotiations of international environmental agreements.

My questions concerned how interviewees had become aware of geoengineering, how they perceived it, and the obstacles they encountered in working with it. Questions were asked in a way that encouraged reflection, often probing why certain actions were taken or certain events happened. Although the interviewees did not always know the answer, their speculations provided important insights to norms and expectations held in the policy-making context. Due to the research question, my main interest was in the performance of geoengineering problem definitions at the international level. However, the bottom-up nature of the discussion (i.e., states and nonstate actors introducing the issue into international fora, rather than vice versa) included analyzing perceptions and expectations at national and sometimes local levels. Although low in quantity, these interviews provided valuable insights into policymakers’ reasoning around geoengineering.

Proceedings focused on events in which some sort of political engagement with geoengineering took place. Internationally, these are the negotiation of marine geoengineering regulation under the London Convention and the London Protocol (LC/LP), the decision on geoengineering made in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the draft resolution on geoengineering discussed in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). Reports of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin were particularly helpful, as were broader analyses like those provided by Dixon et al. (2014) and Fuentes-George (2017). I also analyzed publicly available documents in which governments explicitly position themselves toward geoengineering in reaction to inquiries from parliament or from the public, as well as recent national climate policies for their reference to geoengineering technologies.

Observations of deliberations took place at conferences and events in which government actors engaged with the geoengineering topic. These include two major scientific conferences, observations made at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP23, and observations made in attending an internal workshop of the German Agency for the Environment. By “observations,” I mean in-the-corridor conversations with government actors who attended these events, speeches, or presentations given by government representatives or advisers and observations of how government actors engaged with or questioned the geoengineering-related science that was being presented.

To identify areas where institutional fit was lacking, I focused on finding conflicts and inconsistencies in the reasoning of policymakers. These were expressed through reticence, frustration, confusion, or emotional reaction. If such conflicts or inconsistencies were recurrent with respect to a particular element of common geoengineering problem definitions, I included this element as a case for further analysis. Each case was then analyzed according to the analytical framework, comprising the scientific problem definition, the institutional context in which it caused conflict, the structure of this conflict, any (suggested) strategies for resolving the conflict, any resulting institutions, and the contextual factors that facilitated or impeded the formation of an institution.

Analysis

Problem Definitions in Geoengineering Assessments

The analysis of thirteen geoengineering assessments, published by various actors between 2010 and 2019, reveals three overarching problem definitions that describe the need to engage with geoengineering technologies (summarized in Table 1).

The first argues that mitigation is not enough to stop the damaging effects of climate change and that some form of geoengineering is inevitable. Immediate scale-up of CDR technologies is considered necessary, requiring governance primarily in the form of investment. SRM (prevalently in the form of stratospheric aerosol injection; SAI) is considered a tool that may be necessary in case of a climate emergency but that could also be deployed by (other) unilateral actors. The subsequent recommendation is that capacity to manage unilateral or multilateral deployment should be initiated immediately, through both national and international institutions. A moratorium on any kind of geoengineering deployment is dismissed as unrealistic.

The second expresses a warning that geoengineering technologies are a dangerous distraction, with low potential for effectiveness and high risk of preventing a transition away from the use of fossil fuels. A recurring concern in this problem definition is that research and investment in geoengineering will divert valuable resources away from mitigation and adaptation funds needed in the Global South. It also highlights global power imbalances and the exclusion of poorer and marginalized populations from the decision-making process. As a result, it demands absolute prioritization of mitigation and adaptation, an inclusive discussion on the desirability of geoengineering technologies, and a moratorium on the deployment of SAI.

The third recognizes geoengineering technologies as options in the climate change policy portfolio but highlights the great uncertainties that still characterize these technologies. It refrains from giving direct policy advice beyond the need for more research on the feasibility of different technologies. It tends to emphasize problems of sustainability and equity rather than the technologies’ potential to provide effective solutions. But in the face of mitigation costs and difficulties, it recommends keeping all options open.

The first commonality of these problem definitions is their conceptualization of geoengineering. All reports, even those that use a different name, discuss deliberate, large-scale interventions into natural systems to counteract climate change. Similarly, all reports categorize these interventions into CDR and SRM (although different terms are used as titles). The trend has been to increasingly separate the two groups, for example, by writing separate reports or not using an overarching term. Nevertheless, common concerns in terms of side effects on social and ecological systems, feasibility of deployment at scale, institutional lock-in, and distraction from mitigation and adaptation persist for both categories.

A second commonality (visible in the first and second problem definitions) is the urgency with which international governance is advocated for. In the first problem definition, urgency for up-scaling CDR is rationalized based on scenarios published by the IPCC. Urgency for SRM governance is rationalized through the hazard of unilateral deployment and anticipated loss of control. International institutions—ranging from deliberative fora to nuclear proliferation–like treaties—are recommended as a way to build capacity for managing potential unilateral or multilateral deployment. In the second problem definition, urgency is rationalized based on the threat of geoengineering technologies being normalized and the need for an inclusive and diverse discussion. Existing international institutions are called on to put the potential of geoengineering technologies into a realistic perspective and ensure that any large-scale experimentation or deployment is prohibited in the absence of an inclusive decision-making process.

A third commonality is the narrative of geoengineering involving trade-offs, although their nature varies from definition to definition. The first identifies a trade-off between risk of damage from climate change and risk of damage from geoengineering. The second identifies a trade-off between considering geoengineering as a policy option and the capacity to realize meaningful mitigation and adaptation. The third identifies a trade-off between the anticipated costs of climate mitigation and negative effects that (cheaper) geoengineering technologies could have on sustainable development. The desirability of an individual technology is the result of how large the respective trade-off is perceived to be. Problem definition 1 tends to have a comparably positive view on controversial technologies like Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and SAI, as avoiding damage from climate change is considered a priority. Problem definition 2 dismisses BECCS and SAI for their potential to distract from mitigation and adaptation, while highlighting the benefits of approaches that encourage a transition away from fossil fuel use. Problem definition 3 remains agnostic in the absence of scientific evidence about the effects of geoengineering technologies on sustainable development but prefers solutions that promise cost reduction and cobenefits.

How these problem definitions play out in an institutional context is considered in the following section.

Dissonances in Institutional Fit

In-depth interviews with policymakers from seven different countries, together with observations of deliberations among government actors and relevant negotiation proceedings, reveal that some common elements of geoengineering problem definitions meet barriers in the policy-making context. Particularly important are dissonances with those elements that are widely shared across problem definitions: conceptualization, urgency, and trade-offs.

Scientific Conceptualization and the Global Legal Architecture

One area where institutional fit seems problematic is between the scientific conceptualization of geoengineering (CDR and SRM) and the global legal architecture. The CDR/SRM demarcation separates technologies according to their effect on radiative forcing and has fundamentally shaped the scientific and popular understanding of what geoengineering is (Gupta and Möller 2019). Because of its consistent use in assessments like those above, policymakers share this definition and use it in their deliberations about the issue. Yet when it comes to governance questions, the cases below show that other demarcations—notably method of deployment, scale, impact, and jurisdiction—play a more important role.

The London Convention and Protocol

The first case that exemplifies this lack of fit is the negotiation of the London Convention/London Protocol (LC/LP) amendment on marine geoengineering. In 2013, parties adopted an amendment that restricts the use of ocean fertilization to well-controlled scientific experiments. The process around this amendment was initiated in 2007, in reaction to a private company’s announcement that they would carry out ocean fertilization experiments off of the coast of the Galápagos. Although negotiations were initiated in response to a single technology, the advocates who brought the topic to an international agenda framed the procedure as a form of “geoengineering.” As Fuentes-George (2017) lays out, this was a strategic way of defining the experiments as a global threat and thereby raise concerns among the international community. Already here, problem definition played an important role in bringing the subject to the political agenda.

The CDR/SRM demarcation inherent to the geoengineering problem definition caused some difficulty in the resulting negotiations, as it wasn’t clear how these groups would fit the Protocol’s mandate. A Swedish negotiator explained that “the concern was firstly not to overstep the mandate of the cooperation globally, and secondly to bring about a generic formulation. That means of course that the way [that geoengineering is] formulated in the London Protocol is not necessarily how someone would define it more broadly.” Negotiators eventually agreed that only technologies that added substances to the marine environment could be included in the amendment, due to the Protocol’s mandate being about marine dumping. The new term—marine geoengineering—was different from the CDR/SRM demarcation often used to define geoengineering, in that it had to distinguish according to method of deployment and jurisdiction rather than the technologies’ effect on radiative forcing.

Figure 2 schematically visualizes this case according to the analytical framework. It provides a clear example where the problem definition was adapted by participating policymakers to fit a relatively static institutional context—the mandate of the LC/LP. Contextual factors that facilitated the creation of a new institution included a shared perception that ocean fertilization had negative impacts on the environment and a feeling of relevance due to the fact that ocean fertilization efforts (by private actors) had already taken place. The result was a consensus among negotiating parties that ocean fertilization and comparable technologies should be prevented.

Figure 2 

Lack of Fit Between Scientific Problem Definition and Mandate of London Protocol and London Convention

Figure 2 

Lack of Fit Between Scientific Problem Definition and Mandate of London Protocol and London Convention

The Convention on Biological Diversity

A similar lack of institutional fit was visible during a geoengineering governance workshop where German officials were preparing a political position for international negotiations. In the process, some participants expressed concern regarding the CDR category used in the IPCC’s 1.5°C report. At stake were the differences between reforestation and the restoration of natural ecosystems, on one hand, and aforestation or large-scale industrial systems like BECCS, on the other. One one hand, the institutional context of these policymakers emphasized the encouragement of sustainable practices and the prevention of unsustainable ones. On the other, the CDR category made it difficult to distinguish between those approaches that promised ecological and social benefits (small-scale and already familiar forms of ecological restoration) and those that were perceived to have negative effects on humans and ecological systems (large-scale systems with heavy impacts on social and ecological dimensions).

The differences in technologies summarized as CDR were also perceived to be relevant with respect to regulation of geoengineering under the CBD. In 2010, the CBD’s parties had adopted decision X/33, in which they restricted the use of geoengineering to small-scale scientific experiments in controlled settings. Counterintuitively, the Convention’s decision to discourage geoengineering, in combination with the IPCC’s decision to include reforestation and restoration as a form of CDR (and therefore geoengineering), could make ecosystem restoration relevant to the CBD’s decision. The decision asks governments to ensure that “no climate-related geo-engineering activities that may affect biodiversity take place”—a formulation that does not by default exclude restoration attempts. Conversely, the IPCC’s definition makes it difficult to use the CBD’s decision to regulate those types of CDR that were seen as problematic. Suggestions for ameliorating this situation were to make sure that the IPCC’s future definitions would differentiate CDR technologies according to their ecological and social sustainability and to introduce a corresponding amendment to the CBD’s decision.

The observations used for this case are a snapshot of the reasoning process that took place among a small group of like-minded policymakers developing a strategy for international engagement. An institutional output could therefore not be observed; instead, the relevant outputs of the workshop are depicted in Figure 3. In this case, the redefinition of CDR technologies according to sustainability aspects was relevant both for the participants’ shared problem definition and for the institutional context. By aiming to introduce a sustainability dimension to the CBD’s and the IPCC’s definitions of geoengineering technologies, the officials intended to reshape the global institutional context to facilitate regulation according to the expectations of their national context.

Figure 3 

Lack of Fit Between Scientific Problem Definition and Mandate to Encourage Sustainable Practices

Figure 3 

Lack of Fit Between Scientific Problem Definition and Mandate to Encourage Sustainable Practices

Interviews with policymakers clarify the dissonance between scientific demarcation and legal architecture. The widely used CDR and SRM categories include both local and familiar techniques easily managed within national territory as well as large-scale interventions with transboundary effects. Interviewees mentioned different techniques that were already in use but would fall under the current definition of geoengineering due to their physical mechanism (some forms of cloud seeding and the enhancement of natural carbon sinks). The question then arose how to draw a distinction between technologies that were perceived as ethically and ecologically problematic and those that were considered conventional activities.3

This mismatch between scientific distinction and political priorities resonates with what has been found in comparable studies. In his analysis of interviews with experts advising the European Union, Himmelsbach (2018, 128) writes that “this discrimination between [Climate Engineering] proposals according to the degree of control, or, as one might argue, ontological complexity, cuts against the conventional distinction between the technological families of carbon management and solar radiation management … It does, however, align with concerns about which technologies might be governable on a national level and which ones would require multilateral cooperation.” For this reason, experts as well as policymakers would benefit from critically assessing the available technology categories with respect to their potential for governability.

Urgency in the Face of Novelty and Reputation

A second area where institutional fit seems problematic is the urgency narrative invoked to advocate for geoengineering governance. In problem definition 1, SRM (equated with SAI) is characterized as a free-driver problem in which high impact and low cost could lead to unilateral deployment without global consent. It is therefore imperative that countries form global institutions to prevent this (Stavins and Stowe 2019). A softer version of this argument states that SRM is becoming so present on the scientific agenda that the concerns associated with it demand robust governance infrastructure at all levels (Chhetri et al. 2018).

In problem definition 2, geoengineering (especially SRM, but also some forms of CDR) is characterized as a highly uncertain or undesirable policy option that is becoming normalized through scientific engagement. This normalization requires urgent attention by states and international organizations to avoid “sleepwalking toward a geoengineered future” (Wetter and Zundel 2017, 5) or to place the “seriously over-optimistic” expectations linked to CDR in a more realistic perspective (European Academies Science Advisory Council 2018, iv). The following case describes how the plea to initiate geoengineering governance has faced barriers with respect to novelty of the idea and concerns for state reputation (Figure 4).

Figure 4 

Lack of Fit Between Urgent Governance Call by Governance Advocates and Novelty and Reputation Concerns among Policymakers

Figure 4 

Lack of Fit Between Urgent Governance Call by Governance Advocates and Novelty and Reputation Concerns among Policymakers

The novelty of geoengineering on the climate policy agenda and its accompanying scientific uncertainty make it difficult for policymakers to determine whether geoengineering is indeed an issue that deserves political attention. Evidence can be found both in government position papers and in interviews with policymakers. Thus German and UK government responses to inquiries made by parliamentarians or members of the public name lack of scientific consensus as the main reason why governments refrain from judging (Bundestag 2018) or engaging in a “rational debate on” (Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy 2018a) the merits or risks of geoengineering technologies. Government officials from countries as different as Kenya, Switzerland, and China explained that they attended scientific conferences because they were looking to better understand the status of contemporary research. They usually concluded that the scientific discussions were still very confused.

For some, historical tensions between North and South further reinforced the novelty barrier. A Kenyan climate negotiator explained that the novelty of SRM and its ideational origins in the Global North were likely to make developing countries suspicious. Because of negative experiences with promises made and broken in the past, they lacked the trust needed to address geoengineering of their own accord. Comparable concerns were expressed by a policymaker representing the small island developing states (SIDS) at a scientific conference. She explained how the 1.5°C target had been advocated for by SIDS in the midst of destructive hurricanes. SRM, however, had never been part of the debate and was unlikely to be supported in her cultural context. Both officials also stated that the lack of capacity in developing countries to deal even with the most immediate threats of climate change made it questionable whether they could substantially engage with something like SRM at all.

Next to novelty, the hubris and risk that are widely associated with geoengineering (in particular, with SRM) pose a threat to countries’ reputation. Officials from European countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland expressed concern about how their governments might be perceived if they showed too much enthusiasm for SRM technologies. A Swiss diplomat explained that it “wouldn’t be bad” if the world community could create clarity and decide what kind of research should be allowed. But he also stated that this would be very difficult for a single state to do and that “immediately, there would be countries that say this is a cheap exit, that you want to neglect your mitigation obligations, and solar radiation management is an easy way to do that.”

Because of such reputation concerns, all interviewees thought that state-supported SRM research or governance could only be initiated by an actor with substantial climate legitimacy. German officials thought it would take a collective like the EU or a diverse coalition of states from around the world to bring the issue forward. A scientific adviser from the United Kingdom suggested that such legitimacy might lie with the small island states or the least developed countries, which were very serious about climate change. He said he would be very surprised, though, if the United Kingdom took on this issue itself.

Adaptation of the institutional context to support knowledge production while minimizing reputational damage could be observed in March 2019, when Switzerland introduced a draft resolution on geoengineering governance to UNEA. This resolution was backed by a curious assortment of countries from around the world, none of them major powers, and several of them least developed countries. The resolution draft was modest, refraining from any policy suggestions. Instead, it cited the function of UNEA to “ensure that emerging environmental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate consideration by Governments” and suggested a knowledge-gathering exercise to inform further engagement with the topic (United Nations Environment Assembly 2019).

Despite the efforts of Switzerland and others to create institutional fit, discrepancy in the preferences of parties was too high to allow for an adoption of the resolution. Particularly the draft resolution’s association of geoengineering with “potential global risks and adverse impacts on environment and sustainable development” and “lack of multilateral control and oversight” was distasteful to countries that build their climate policies on BECCS or other forms of carbon capture. Saudi Arabia argued that grouping CDR with SRM would lead to disproportionate restrictions for carbon capture technologies. The United States wanted to place both CDR and SRM on par with mitigation and adaptation, characterizing each as a potential “climate strategy” (Corry 2019). Although the resolution went through several drafts, persistent lack of agreement eventually led to its withdrawal from the negotiation table.

While the barriers of novelty and reputation concerns only become visible through careful deliberative analysis, the urgency narrative is pervasive among officials who engage with the subject. This highlights an important tension. On one hand, policymakers buy the urgency narrative, expressing the need for early international governance. On the other hand, they say that the state of scientific knowledge is too preliminary even to qualify for political discussion.4 Concerns for reputation add another layer of complexity. Environmentally concerned and technologically advanced countries fear reputation costs if they engage too positively with geoengineering. Developing countries lack scientific capacity and trust in new promises promoted by Western scientists. Yet with the recent breach of geoengineering at UNEA, the problem of uncertainty becomes less pronounced. The Swiss initiative has opened a path for larger, more powerful actors to enter the arena. These no longer need to fear for their reputation and can point to the failed UNEA resolution as a precedent that deserves further discussion. How deliberations on this front will continue remains to be seen.

Risk–Risk Narratives and the Evolving Norms of Environmental Governance

A third area where institutional fit poses difficulties concerns the trade-off language used in many geoengineering problem definitions. Particularly the risk–risk trade-off between damage from climate change and damage from geoengineering technologies used in problem definition 1 is a difficult sell amid traditional principles of environmental protection. Norms like preventive action, precaution, polluter pays, and the responsibility to avoid transboundary harm constitute an influential normative infrastructure that decision makers have learned to navigate over many years (Beyerlin 2007). At the same time, the normative expectations at the international level are changing. This signifies barriers to geoengineering governance in two ways: a lack of fit between the risk–risk problem definition and the precautionary principle, but also a conflict between the normative contexts of different countries (Figure 5).

Figure 5 

Lack of Fit Between Risk–Risk Narrative and Normative Context of Global Environmental Governance

Figure 5 

Lack of Fit Between Risk–Risk Narrative and Normative Context of Global Environmental Governance

Particularly in a European context, the risk–risk narrative of geoengineering stands in stark contrast to traditions of minimizing or avoiding risk in environmental policy. For example, policymakers in Germany face an institutional legacy of norms that emphasize minimization of ecological harm and that are skeptical of large-scale technological or interventionist solutions (e.g., nuclear power or genetic modification). Meanwhile, policymakers in China or the United States work in a context that encourages technological solutions and that has a history of large-scale environmental interventions.

Falkner and Buzan (2019) remind us that despite the overall institutionalization of environmental protection as a primary global norm, the types of policies through which this norm should be realized are increasingly open for debate. This development was also evident to political agents who engaged in international environmental politics. In a discussion among German policymakers, experienced international negotiators pointed out that using the precautionary principle to justify strict regulation or a moratorium on geoengineering (as desired by their national counterparts) would alienate other states and come with a risk of losing influence on the shape of the agenda. The UNEA deliberations discussed earlier provide evidence in kind, where resistance to the precautionary principle language was met by surprise (Goering 2019). To exert influence and maintain goodwill, asking the scientific community to cast light on critical aspects of geoengineering technologies was thought to be more effective. In this way, concerns could be expressed based on scientific fact rather than on normative principle.5

Addressing geoengineering in a governance context where risks are not well received can be done in different ways. One strategy is to separate individual technologies from the geoengineering concept entirely. More concretely, governments are careful to avoid these terms in their climate strategies, and those technologies with a high-risk profile (SAI or ocean fertilization) are excluded from national government activity. A clear example can be found in the UK government’s policy toward CDR. In a prestigious investment program financed by the UK natural environment research council, CDR is renamed greenhouse gas removal (GGR) and divorced from the geoengineering label. While the technologies subsumed under GGR remain the same as under CDR, the term geoengineering or climate engineering is omitted. In this form, and with reference to the Paris Agreement, GGR has become an official part of the United Kingdom’s clean growth strategy (Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy 2018b).

As an interviewed official explained, the only reason why the UK government still has a public statement on geoengineering at all is because citizens and civil society organizations sometimes write letters of concern to their politicians (see Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy 2018a). These concerns are commonly motivated through fears of so-called chemtrails—a conspiracy theory about governmental climate and mind control, allegedly evident in the condensation trails of conventional airplanes. As Cairns (2016) discusses, this conspiracy theory has important implications for trust and justification in the governance of SRM technologies and provides further motivation to divorce government policy from the geoengineering terminology.

While the separation approach works for technologies that are not (yet) considered overly risky, technologies with a public high-risk profile need to be addressed differently. As discussed earlier, most governments do not have a position on the governance of “ontologically complex” technologies like SAI yet, also because the issue is very new on the governmental agenda. But when encouraged to give an opinion on how governance might take place, officials react by emphasizing widespread participation. Some highlight the need for authority and social control in the face of unilateral deployment. Others highlight ethics, stating that those affected by the intervention should have a voice in the governance procedure. Still others express concerns that interventions should be sustainable and therefore adhere to collectively determined standards. It is interesting to note that rather than highlighting effectiveness and efficiency in the governance of SRM, which would call for a minilateral option (Victor 2009), all policymakers with whom I spoke expressed a preference for multilateral solutions.

Where negotiation should take place is a different question and depends somewhat on the individual decision maker’s institutional context. Agents versed in global environmental governance know that there are variations in the normative underpinnings of different international fora and can anticipate where their own institutional contexts are likely to be mirrored. Choice of venue is therefore a way of adapting the institutional context to enable fit with a preferred problem definition. For example, negotiators in the CBD can take a more skeptical stance toward geoengineering than negotiators in the UNFCCC, as the foundational norms of these institutions differ with respect to what is considered appropriate. McGraw (2002) explains that the CBD prioritizes national sovereignty and an ecosystem-based approach, while the UNFCCC prioritizes global cooperation and a science-based approach. Furthermore, the CBD has a history of restrictively regulating geoengineering research and deployment through decision X/33, while the UNFCCC allows considerable space for geoengineering in the form of CDR through Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement.

An example of difference in the institutional venue preference of policymakers can be found in the proceedings of the CBD’s COP10, where negotiators discussed a possible geoengineering moratorium. Attending members of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin noted that while some participants took the issue very seriously, muttering that “there are real issues at stake here,” others downplayed the process and argued that “the real decisions will be taken in other fora, most notably the UNFCCC” (International Institute for Sustainable Development 2010). Legitimation and delegitimation of these fora can be observed again and again at various geoengineering events and conferences. While skeptics of geoengineering research and development uphold the CBD’s decision X/33 as an already existing de facto moratorium, supporters deny its significance on the basis that it is not legally binding.

Existing norms of global environmental governance constitute important structures in the practical assessment of geoengineering governance. It is surprising that they are not more front and center in the corresponding academic literature. With some notable exceptions (Brent et al. 2015; Talberg et al. 2018), norms are mostly addressed as something that still needs to be developed to govern emerging technologies. Yet the work that existing norms do in steering the behavior of government representatives determines which debates and discussions can be initiated in the first place. Instead of assuming a blank slate, future governance assessments could profit from taking into account the power of contextual values and principles.

Conclusions

What is needed to make geoengineering technologies governable? I argue that to answer this question, researchers need to study the way in which scientific problem definitions match the institutional context of policymakers. My analysis indicates that there are at least three areas where common elements of geoengineering problem definitions conflict with the institutional setting of policymakers, and I provide examples of how policymakers act as agents in creating institutional fit.

First, the ubiquitous demarcation between technologies according to their effect on radiation balance (CDR and SRM) makes it difficult to regulate according to politically relevant dimensions, such as scale, impact, method of deployment, and jurisdiction. More useful is the focus on individual technologies. These can be evaluated according to politically relevant criteria, including economic cobenefits and social, political, and environmental compatibility. For now, this is particularly important for CDR, which is reaching political agendas through the conclusions and models of the IPCC. The technologies in this group have very different levels of normative acceptability but are presented as exchangeable in many scientific models. An individualized approach enables better integration with other types of climate policies and facilitates governance within existing regulatory structures.

Second, the urgency with which governance is advocated for conflicts with scientific and political uncertainties, making it difficult for policymakers to take initiative. While scientific uncertainty impedes the formation of an internal political position, political uncertainty evokes concerns for reputation and relations with other actors. The draft resolution on geoengineering governance recently discussed at UNEA may have mitigated this problem, as countries were compelled to take a political stance. We can expect that more powerful countries will begin engaging in the debate soon.

Third, the trade-off narratives in geoengineering problem definitions require experience in navigating the normative structures of global environmental governance. Traditional principles of precaution and prevention seek to stop environmental harm from happening, rather than risking one kind of harm to avoid another. But these traditional environmental ideals are increasingly being questioned, and policymakers need to strategically choose both problem definition and venue if they want to maintain control of political developments. One way of navigating this complex situation is for negotiators to discuss their concerns in a dialogue with scientists. The UNFCCC’s structured expert dialogue could be used as a model for this type of engagement.

Notes

1. 

Geoengineering technologies describe large-scale, intentional interventions into natural systems in order to stabilize global temperatures. Prominent examples include planting and processing massive amounts of biomass to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage; BECCS) and artificially injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere to reflect incoming sunlight (stratospheric aerosol injection; SAI).

2. 

The contextualist definition of institutional fit that I use here differs from the problem structural definition suggested by Oran Young (2002, 20), who uses the term to emphasize that institutional arrangements should match “the defining features of the problems that they address.”

3. 

The reason why this problem is not commonly recognized is because SRM tends to be equated with SAI—one approach to increase global reflectivity associated with high impact, high effectiveness, and high risk. When considering other techniques, such as increasing the reflectivity of roads and buildings, impacts and risks are much more similar to approaches like soil-carbon sequestration or reforestation.

4. 

The outcome of this chicken-and-egg problem is also likely to depend on how much influence policy entrepreneurs like the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Initiative (C2G2) or the Heinrich Böll Stiftung/ETC group will have in convincing governments to take action. The urgency of geoengineering governance seems to be most actively conveyed through nonprofit organizations like these (albeit using different problem definitions), and both were present at the UNEA conference.

5. 

The direct interaction with scientists in question-and-answer format was also highlighted by other policymakers as particularly helpful. One interviewee described the UNFCCC’s structured expert dialogue as “the best thing I have ever experienced in the climate negotiations.”

References

Allan
,
Bentley B.
2017
.
Producing the Climate: States, Scientists, and the Constitution of Global Governance Objects
.
International Organization
71
(
1
):
131
162
.
Anshelm
,
Jonas
, and
Anders
Hansson
.
2014
.
The Last Chance to Save the Planet? An Analysis of the Geoengineering Advocacy Discourse in the Public Debate
.
Environmental Humanities
5
(
1
):
101
123
.
Armeni
,
Chiara
, and
Catherine
Redgwell
.
2015
.
International Legal and Regulatory Issues of Climate Geoengineering Governance: Rethinking the Approach
.
Climate Geoengineering Governance Working Paper 021
.
Beyerlin
,
Ulrich
.
2007
.
Different Types of Norms in International Environmental Law: Policies, Principles, and Rules
. In
The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law
, edited by
Daniel
Bodansky
,
Jutta
Brunnée
, and
Ellen
Hey
.
Oxford, UK
:
Oxford University Press
.
Bipartisan Policy Center
.
2011
.
Geoengineering: A national strategic plan for research on the potential effectiveness, feasibility, and consequences of climate remediation technologies
.
Technical Report
.
Washington DC
:
Bipartisan Policy Center
.
Boettcher
,
Miranda
.
2019
.
Cracking the Code: How Discursive Structures Shape Climate Engineering Governance
.
Environmental Politics
1
:
27
.
Brent
,
Kerryn
,
Jeffrey
Mcgee
, and
Amy
Maguire
.
2015
.
Does the “No-Harm” Rule Have a Role in Preventing Transboundary Harm and Harm to the Global Atmospheric Commons from Geoengineering?
Climate Law
5
(
1
):
35
63
.
Cairns
,
Rose
.
2016
.
Climates of Suspicion: “Chemtrail” Conspiracy Narratives and the International Politics of Geoengineering
.
The Geographical Journal
182
(
1
):
70
84
.
Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative (C2G2)
.
2019
.
Geoengineering: The Need for Governance
.
Technical Report
.
New York
:
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
.
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
.
2019
.
Fuel to the Fire: How Geoengineering Threatens to Entrench Fossil Fuels and Accelerate the Climate Crisis
.
Technical Report
.
Washington, DC
:
Center for International Environmental Law
.
Chhetri
,
Netra
,
Dan
Chong
,
Ken
Conca
, et al
2018
.
Governing Solar Radiation Management
.
Technical report
.
Washington, DC
:
Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, American University
.
Corry
,
Olaf
.
2019
.
Did Global Governance of Geoengineering Just Fall at the First Hurdle?
.
Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy
.
2018a
.
The Clean Growth Strategy
.
London, UK
:
BEIS
.
Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy
.
2018b
.
Geo-Engineering: The Government’s View
.
London, UK
:
BEIS
.
Deutscher Bundestag
.
2018
.
Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Lisa Badum, Kai Gering, Steffi Lemke, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN—Drucksache 19/2586—Geoengineering und Klimakrise
.
Available at http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/19/031/1903149.pdf, last accessed March 18, 2010
.
Dixon
,
Tim
,
Justine
Garrett
, and
Edward
Kleverlaan
.
2014
.
Update on the London Protocol—Developments on Transboundary CCS and on Geoengineering
.
Energy Procedia
63
:
6623
6628
.
ETC Group
.
2010
.
Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering
.
Communiqué 103
.
Ottawa
:
ETC Group
.
European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering (EuTRACE)
.
2015
.
Removing Greenhouse Gases from the Atmosphere and Reflecting Sunlight away from Earth
.
Technical Report
.
Potsdam
:
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
.
European Academies Science Advisory Council
.
2018
.
Negative Emission Technologies: What Role in Meeting Paris Agreement Targets?
Leopoldina, Halle, Germany
:
German National Academy of Sciences
.
Falkner
,
Robert
, and
Barry
Buzan
.
2019
.
The Emergence of Environmental Stewardship as a Primary Institution of Global International Society
.
European Journal of International Relations
25
(
1
):
131
155
.
Fuentes-George
,
Kemi
.
2017
.
Consensus, Certainty, and Catastrophe: Discourse, Governance, and Ocean Iron Fertilization
.
Global Environmental Politics
17
(
2
):
125
143
.
Goering
,
Laurie
.
2019
.
Proposal for UN to Study Climate-Cooling Technologies Rejected
.
Reuters
.
Gupta
,
Aarti
, and
Ina
Möller
.
2019
.
De Facto Governance: How Authoritative Assessments Construct Climate Engineering as an Object of Governance
.
Environmental Politics
28
(
3
):
480
501
.
Hajer
,
Maarten
, and
Hendrik
Wagenaar
.
2003
.
Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society
.
New York, NY
:
Cambridge University Press
.
Himmelsbach
,
Raffael
.
2018
.
How Scientists Advising the European Commission on Research Priorities View Climate Engineering Proposals
.
Science and Public Policy
45
(
1
):
124
133
.
Huttunen
,
Suvi
,
Emmi
Skytén
, and
Mikael
Hildén
.
2014
.
Emerging Policy Perspectives on Geoengineering: An International Comparison
.
The Anthropocene Review
2
(
1
):
1
19
.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
.
2012
.
IPCC Expert Meeting on Geoengineering
.
Meeting Report
.
Potsdam
:
IPCC Working Group III Technical Support Unit
.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
.
2018
.
Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5C. Chapter 4: Strengthening and Implementing the Global Response
.
Available at https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/, accessed May 18, 2020
.
International Institute for Sustainable Development
.
2010
.
CBD COP 10 Highlights Friday, 22 October 2010
.
Earth Negotiations Bulletin
9
(
539
).
Irvine
,
Peter
,
Kerry
Emanuel
,
Jie
He
,
Larry W.
Horowitz
,
Gabriel
Vecchi
, and
David
Keith
.
2019
.
Halving Warming with Idealized Solar Geoengineering Moderates Key Climate Hazards
.
Nature Climate Change
9
:
295
299
.
Kingdon
,
John W.
1984
.
Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies
.
Boston, MA
:
Little, Brown
.
Lejano
,
Raul P.
, and
Savita
Shankar
.
2013
.
The Contextualist Turn and Schematics of Institutional Fit: Theory and a Case Study from Southern India
.
Policy Sciences
46
(
1
):
83
102
.
March
,
James G.
, and
Johan P.
Olsen
.
2011
.
The Logic of Appropriateness
. In
The Oxford Handbook of Political Science
, edited by
Robert E.
Goodin
,
478
493
.
Oxford, UK
:
Oxford University Press
.
McGraw
,
Désirée M.
2002
.
The CBD—Key Characteristics and Implications for Implementation
.
RECIEL
11
(
1
):
17
28
.
National Academy of Sciences
.
2015
.
Report in Brief: Climate Intervention
.
Technical report
.
Washington, DC
:
National Academies Press
.
Rochefort
,
David A.
, and
Roger W.
Cobb
.
1994
.
The Politics of Problem Definition: Shaping the Policy Agenda
.
Lawrence, KS
:
University Press of Kansas
.
Rogelj
,
Joeri
,
Alexander
Popp
,
Katherine V.
Calvin
, et al
2018
.
Scenarios Towards Limiting Global Mean Temperature Increase Below 1.5°C
.
Nature Climate Change
8
:
325
332
.
Royal Society
.
2018
.
Greenhouse Gas Removal
.
London, UK
:
Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering
.
Stavins
,
Robert N.
, and
Robert C.
Stowe
.
2019
.
Governance of the Deployment of Solar Geoengineering
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
.
Talati
,
Shuchi
, and
Paul
Higgins
.
2019
.
Policy Sector Perspectives on Geoengineering Risk and Governance
.
Journal of Science Policy and Governance
14
(
1
).
Talberg
,
Anita
,
Peter
Christoff
,
Sebastian
Thomas
, and
David
Karoly
.
2018
.
Geoengineering Governance-by-Default: An Earth System Governance Perspective
.
International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law, and Economics
18
(
2
):
229
253
.
United Nations Environment Assembly
.
2019
.
Resolution for Consideration at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly: Geoengineering and Its Governance
. .
Victor
,
David G.
2009
.
On the regulation of geoengineering
. In
The Economics and Politics of Climate Change
, edited by
Dieter
Helm
and
Cameron
Hepburn
,
325
339
.
New York, NY
:
Oxford University Press
.
Wetter
,
Kathy J.
, and
Trudi
Zundel
.
2017
.
The Big Bad Fix
.
Technical report
.
ETC Group, Biofuelwatch & Heinrich Böll Stiftung
.
Young
,
Oran
.
2002
.
The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change: Fit, Interplay, and Scale
.
Cambridge, MA
:
MIT Press
.

Author notes

*

I am grateful to Fariborz Zelli, Johannes Lindvall, and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments in developing this paper. Special thanks also go to the interviewees from different government departments for their participation and interest. This research was made possible through funding from the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS).