Scenario 1: Climate Engineering Research Governance: Avoiding the Slippery Slope
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It is 2020. China, Brazil, the European Union, and the United States have all separately announced that they plan to establish substantial research programs on solar geoengineering, covering all modes of research including outdoor field experiments, at funding levels ranging from about 50 to 100 million Euros per year.
As an alternative to separate national programs, however, the four governments have expressed willingness – in principle – to support a co-operative international research program, which they would manage jointly and which other nations would be invited to join as they begin to pursue solar geoengineering research.
Negotiations to establish this joint research program are starting.
Some governments and civil society organizations have expressed grave reservations about the proposed research program, based on “slippery slope” concerns.
Their worry is that this research might set in motion political or economic forces that would bias future national and international decisions toward continuation and expanded scale of solar geoengineering research, or even a gradual slide into full-scale operational deployment, without adequate assessment, deliberation, or legitimate public control.
Your Group’s Task:
You are a senior group of international officials, serving as secretariat to the negotiations. Your responsibility is to support the negotiations that are starting, but you take these expressed concerns very seriously.
What specific measures regarding the design, funding, oversight, or control of the research program do you wish to propose to negotiators to protect against this risk?
In developing your proposals please also think about how you will explain and argue for these measures – both to the governments negotiating the research program, and to the others who have raised these concerns?