Accepted Paper:

The politics and publics of Enhanced Weathering for carbon sequestration  


Emily Cox (Cardiff University)

Paper short abstract:

We present a series of expert interviews and a cross-national survey of lay publics, on the ethics and acceptability of negative emissions proposals such as Enhanced Weathering. We explore their potential role in future social and political systems, and the factors likely to shape public responses.

Paper long abstract:

Social and ethical concerns over various Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) cannot easily be homogenised, therefore it is useful to focus specific attention on particular technology proposals, whilst simultaneously remembering to put them in context with a range of other climate strategies. This project examines the ethics and acceptability of Enhanced Weathering, a technique which would involve amending soils of managed croplands with crushed rocks in order to accelerate their chemical breakdown and sequester CO2. Enhanced Weathering is a technology at a very early stage of development, meaning that little is currently known about its efficacy, impacts, or social acceptability.

We examine Enhanced Weathering in the context of other NETs such as Direct Air Capture, BECCS and afforestation. We are particularly interested in their potential role in future social and political systems, and especially the role of lay publics. Previous work has shown that for novel technologies, 'upstream engagement' with non-experts can be highly effective at identifying issues and risks which might have been overlooked by scientists and developers. For the initial stage of this project, we have interrogated the perspectives of both NET 'experts' (by interviewing senior stakeholders from a range of sectors) and lay publics (by conducting a large cross-national survey of publics in the UK, US and Australia). This presentation will present the results from these two streams of enquiry, in order to begin to understand the factors likely to shape future public responses to Enhanced Weathering and NETs, and to capture the character of public concerns.

Panel A23
The politics of negative emissions