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Governance of emerging climate technologies in the context of sustainable development
Note: Time Zoom in UTC

While awareness of the global climate emergency is growing, a persistent gap remains between international commitments and pathways to the 1.5–2oC goal of the Paris Agreement. Climate change impacts and responses are closely linked to sustainable development and in addition to a primary focus on emissions reductions, carbon dioxide removal and adaptation, new technologies are being explored to artificially cool the planet through solar radiation modification (SRM).

The research and the development (or not) of SRM raise many scientific questions as well as other cultural, ethical, religious, geopolitical and security issues, and further evidence across and between disciplines will be needed to effectively answer them. This has already been acknowledged in a number of intergovernmental processes, for example among Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2016) and the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA, 2019).

Limiting global warming to 1.5oC would make it markedly easier to achieve many aspects of sustainable development, with greater potential to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities (IPCC, 2018, p447). However, if international mitigation action continues on its current path towards overshoot of 1.5oC (UNEP, 2020), then can and should additional approaches such as SRM be considered to help avoid the significant risks to natural and human systems that would ensue? Could SRM actually reduce climate risks? Or would the relative risks presented by SRM outweigh the potential benefits for sustainable development?

SRM thus faces multiple uncertainties and knowledge gaps with potentially serious implications for delivery of the SDGs. An overview of the state of SRM research and development, implications for the SDGs and the need to strengthen governance to guarantee climate justice will be presented together with policy recommendations for possible pathways to addressing knowledge and governance gaps in future.

May 4, 2021 12:00 PM in Universal Time UTC

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