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09/07/2017 09:30

Climate Engineering: A Tool for Climate Protection?

Eva Söderman Presse und Kommunikation
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V.

    International experts will debate controversial interventions in the Earth System at the Climate Engineering Conference 2017 in October

    Is climate engineering necessary in order to protect the climate and successfully implement the Paris Agreement? What are the potential risks and side effects of climate engineering, and who would govern its use? International experts from the fields of science, policymaking, and civil society will meet in Berlin on 9 – 12 October at the world’s largest conference on this topic – Climate Engineering Conference 2017 (CEC17) – to explore the complex ethical, political and scientific issues raised by climate engineering approaches.

    The IASS invites journalists to a press briefing:

    “Climate engineering: a useful tool in the fight against climate change?”
    When: Tuesday, 10 October 2017 from 12.45 p.m. to 1.45 p.m.
    Where: Umweltforum, Pufendorfstr. 11, 10249 Berlin (2nd floor)

    With Mark Lawrence, Managing Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam: an atmospheric scientist, Mark Lawrence oversees the research effort on climate engineering at the IASS.
    David Keith is Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. His work is focused on the science, technology and public policy of solar geoengineering. He is founder of Carbon Engineering, a company developing technology to capture CO2 from ambient air.
    Lili Fuhr is a geographer and Head of the Ecology and Sustainable Development Department at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. She campaigns for climate justice, radical emission reductions, and restoration of ecosystems.
    Pablo Suarez leads research and innovation at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. The Argentinian system dynamics modeler stresses that the rights and needs of those most affected by climate change should feature more prominently in the debate on climate engineering.
    Language: English (German interpretation available)

    Background: Capturing carbon and dimming the sun

    In the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement, efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions are progressing sluggishly and strategies for climate change adaptation are still in the early stages of development. Is climate engineering set to play a growing role in the struggle against climate change, and if so, how can the potential risks be determined and guarded against?

    Two different types of technologies are currently under discussion: Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) approaches aim to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by various methods. Solar Radiation Management (SRM) approaches, on the other hand, seek to alter the Earth’s energy budget by ensuring that less sunlight reaches the planet’s surface.

    Will energy crops be cultivated on a massive scale in the future in order to capture CO2 so that it can subsequently be stored underground? Almost all of the ambitious emissions scenarios in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that aim to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius by the end of the century are based on the assumption that this so-called Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) method will be applied on a large scale. However, growing the energy crops required for BECCS would necessitate the conversion of huge areas of farmland, presenting societies with a major problem.

    Methods to reflect sunlight back into space could quickly slow or stop rising temperatures, if they could ever be implemented technically and politically. However, approaches such as the injection of aerosols into the atmosphere in order to scatter sunlight back into space entail considerable risks and difficult political implications, which may be even more problematic than the technical questions that surround them. For example, the occurrence of extreme weather events in connection with SRM could result in heightened political tensions and become a source of conflict.

    CEC 2017: A forum for critical, global and transparent discussion

    In light of the uncertainties, potentials and global impacts of climate engineering, there is an urgent need for a critical, transparent, and open discussion of the research, regulation, and the arguments in favour of and against large-scale technical interventions in the climate system.

    Building on the success of CEC14, this second Climate Engineering Conference will bring together 250 experts from science, the business community, and civil society for four days of intensive exchange and discussion in Berlin. Among them, approximately 50 participants from developing and newly industrialised countries, including numerous representatives of non-governmental organisations, are expected at CEC17 and will attend the meeting of the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative being held in conjunction with this event.

    Climate engineering in the context of the Paris Agreement will be the focus of a panel discussion with experts David Keith (Harvard), Janos Pasztor (Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative), Lili Fuhr (Heinrich Böll Foundation), Pablo Suarez (Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre), Oliver Geden (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP), H. Elizabeth Thompson (Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations) and Oliver Morton (author of the book “A Planet Remade”) at Haus der Kulturen der Welt at 6:30 p.m. on 10 October.

    The Climate Engineering Conference Series is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). The conference partners are Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI) and the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative (C2G2).

    For more information and the conference programme, please see

    To attend our press briefing and CEC17, please register by email ( as soon as possible and no later than 4.00 p.m. on 4 October. Please note that only a limited number of places are available due to capacity constraints at the conference venue.

    For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
    Eva Söderman / Anja Krieger
    Press & Communications
    Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)
    Berliner Straße 130, 14467 Potsdam
    Tel. +49 (0)331 288 22-340/479
    Fax +49 (0)331 288 22-310
    Email /

    The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conducts research with the goal of identifying, advancing, and guiding transformation processes towards sustainable societies in Germany and abroad. Its research practice is transdisciplinary, transformative, and co-creative. The institute cooperates with partners in academia, political institutions, administrations, civil society, and the business community to understand sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions. A strong network of national and international partners supports the work of the institute. Among its central research topics are the energy transition, emerging technologies, climate change, air quality, systemic risks, governance and participation, and cultures of transformation. The IASS is funded by the research ministries of the Federal Government of Germany and the State of Brandenburg.

    more information: More information and the conference programme Reporting on CEC17 / Accreditation

    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists, Scientists and scholars
    Environment / ecology, Oceanology / climate, Philosophy / ethics, Politics
    transregional, national
    Press events, Scientific conferences

    Geoengineering measures to reflect sunlight (mustard) and remove CO2 from the atmosphere (purple)

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