Accepted Paper:

What is responsible climate geoengineering? Contested notions of responsibility in climate engineering expert discourses  


Nils Matzner (Alpen-Adria-Universit├Ąt Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Climate engineering (CE) experts frame responsibility concerning research, deployment, and governance of CE in various ways. This paper maps, explains, and compares responsibility concepts across six domains of the CE expert discourse.

Paper long abstract:

Climate engineering comes with the potential to decelerate climate change and its associated risks by modifying the planetary environment. Therefore, it is important to illuminate how experts involved in the discourses around these technologies understand their own and others' responsibilities. Experts frequently and lightly talk about "responsibility". Although, the concepts of responsibility are not well understood and not clear enough in their formulation because of their often-unclear references to responsibility subjects, objects, norms, and institutions. This paper investigates discursive framings of responsibility in six major domains - science and engineering, social sciences and humanities, interdisciplinary research, policy, the science-policy interface, and civil society. It reconstructs and compares the major concepts inside and across domains. The study found that assignment and combination of subjects (who?), objects (for what?), norms (based on?), and authority (to whom?) of responsibility are particularly diverse. For example, seeing industrial countries as mainly responsible for anthropogenic emissions is common among NGOs while many scientists see responsible research as a self-governed process. These findings suggest that "responsible climate engineering research, development, and deployment" has to be elucidated and clarified among discursive participants to enable some form of responsible governance.

Panel C18
Open questions in STS and geoengineering