Public Events

UPCOMING

 


PAST EVENTS

Monday, May 9, 2016

“Can we Engineer the Climate? Should We?”

Simon Nicholson, Co-Executive Director, FCEA

Keynote address to the Abrams Sustainability Seminar, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan

4PM                                                                                                                                                                                           Helmut Stern Auditorium in the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Thursday, April 14, 2016

“Why talk about climate engineering?”

Climate engineering overview and discussion, open to all students and faculty.

Michael Thompson, Managing Director, FCEA

2:30-3:30 PM EST,
Room 300
School of International Service,
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

March 22-23, 2016

International Workshop on Climate Engineering: Toward (non-)Research Collaboration
in the Asia-Pacific region

The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Wil Burns, Co-Director, FCEA and Michael Thompson, Managing Director, FCEA

March 7, 2016

Meeting of  Academic Working Group on the International Governance of Climate Engineering

AGENDA FCEA AWG March 7 meeting

invite-only meeting, will be video recorded and made available on FCEA website

Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment
School of International Service, American University

School of International Service,
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

“Why talk about climate engineering?”

Climate engineering overview and discussion, open to all students and faculty.

Michael Thompson, Managing Director, FCEA

2-3 PM EST,
Room 300
School of International Service,
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

“Why talk about climate engineering?”

Climate engineering overview and discussion, open to all students and faculty.

Michael Thompson, Managing Director, FCEA

2-3 PM EST,
Room 300
School of International Service,
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

“Into the Great Wide Open? A Human Rights Perspective on Climate Engineering Governance”

A paper presentation at the 2015 Canberra Conference on Earth System Governance, Canberra, Australia

Presenter- Wil Burns, Co-Director, FCEA

Thursday, November 19, 2015

“Do Hippocratic Oath Lessons Apply to Climate Intervention Research?”

A talk by Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

The Hippocratic Oath has been taken by many physicians since the earliest Greek version in the fifth century BCE.  Even as the text has changed over the centuries, the oath means to convey the profound responsibilities of the knowledge gained and care that should be taken when applied to patients.   Similarly, many engineers trained in Canada wear an ‘Iron Ring’ on the dominant hand to be a constant reminder of the ethics associated with their engineering practice.  Medical ethics boards and engineering standards are updated periodically to help ensure that systems are in place to help make it less likely that research subjects suffer undue harm or bridges fail catastrophically.  Can lessons gleaned over the centuries from medical and engineering fields be applied to research on climate intervention?  Informed consent is required in research on human subjects.  Is this possible to have informed consent with certain types of climate intervention research?  Would the engineering standards approach for people’s safety in the general sense more applicable?  Is this possible when climate intervention is hampered by insufficient research?  Does this argue for more climate intervention research in order to build up such safety standards?  What would the principles look like for national and international climate intervention research boards?  Who would help design these principles and encourage voluntary compliance?  We will explore these questions and discuss potential lessons from the past that could be applied.  We will identify places where we may be entering uncharted territory to spark discussion of the scientific, philosophical, and governance processes that might help us navigate the potential risks associated with climate intervention research.

The talk will be followed by a panel discussion.  This event is open to the public, and will be webcast.

10AM-12 PM EST
Abramson Family Founders Room,
School of International Service
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wil Burns, Co-Director, FCEA, will speak the University of Wisconsin, Madison

A presentation on the potential benefits of climate geoengineering, as well as potential negative impacts.  The talk will discuss governance issues, including pertinent international treaty regimes and the potential implications of overlapping jurisdiction, the contours of a potential framework for liability for potential negative impacts, and how to address potential moral hazard concerns associated with proceeding with climate engineering research program or deployment of climate engineering technologies.

The talk will be webcast.

info: 
Weston Roundtable Series
1106 Mechanical Engineering, 1513 University Avenue
Madison Wisconsin

Eventbrite registration here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jeff Goodell in Conversation at the School of International Service, American University

Jeff Goodell November 12, 2015

Jeff Goodell is a contributing editor with Rolling Stone magazine, writing on climate and energy issues. He recently spent two hours in conversation with President Obama in Alaska, discussing the dangers climate change presents to vulnerable populations and what we have to do to address the biggest challenge of our time.

Goodell will join Professor Paul Wapner to talk about his conversation with the President, the prospects for a climate agreement in Paris and what comes next, and his thoughts on the world’s options for avoiding catastrophic climate change.

This event is open to the public, and will be webcast.

2:30-4 PM EST
Abramson Family Founders Room,
School of International Service
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Eventbrite registration here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

“Engineering the Climate: The Good, the Bad, and the (Could Be) Ugly”

Simon Nicholson will speak about a new research program led by the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, looking at the international governance of climate engineering research and potential deployment.

The University Library’s Research in Progress: AU 2030 Series and the AU Sustainability Collaborative Colloquium Present: The ECOllaborative Colloquium on Climate Change

Research in Progress events showcase research from across the American University community, with a special emphasis on innovative or multidisciplinary approaches, as well as initiatives from AU 2030. The Sustainability Collaborative Colloquium (SCC) is a monthly panel series showcasing the work of AU scholars on topics of pressing environmental and societal concern.

This cross-disciplinary panel will showcase research of four American University scholars, with discussions centered on climate change issues.

Friday, October 30
Mary Graydon Center, Room 245
4:00-5:30 p.m.
RSVP here

Thursday, October 22, 2015

“Climate Engineering and its Implications for Intergenerational Equity”

Wil Burns, Co-Director, FCEA, will speak at the Center for International Environmental Law

Due to the inadequate response of the global community in the context of climate policymaking, climate geoengineering has emerged as an increasingly viable option among commentators and some policymakers. One of the most widely discussed of these options is solar radiation management, or efforts to increase atmospheric albedo through techniques such as sulfur particle injection or cloud brightening. Unfortunately, while such techniques have the potential to avert “climate emergencies,” or to serve as a stopgap measure to buy time for effective emissions mitigation responses, they also pose serious risks. Many commentators have focused on intra-generational risks, such as changes in precipitation patterns, or increases in sulfur dioxide loads in the troposphere. However, SRM approaches may also poses grave threats to future generations should their use ultimately cease without concomitant reductions in greenhouse emissions, termed the so-called “termination” or “rebound” effect. This presentation focuses on the implications of the international legal principle of intergenerational equity in terms of potential deployment of SRM technologies and suggests how it should inform decision-making in this context.
RSVP requested but not required to Amanda Kistler – akistler@ciel.org

info:
12-1:30 PM
CIEL Conference Room:
1350 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 1100, Washington DC 20036
(Above the Dupont Circle South Metro)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

 What are the options for 2C?

GCCW Event Poster-page-001

info:
3:30-5 PM
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Eventbrite registration here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Alternative Climate Solutions

Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment & Center for Carbon Removal at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute

Despite warnings from climatologists that temperature increases will result in dangerous climatic damage,  the global community continues to face rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions that put us on pace for temperature increases with potentially disastrous implications.

Panelists:

  • Noah Deich, Executive Director, Center for Carbon Removal
  • Wil Burns, Co-Director, Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment
  • Sascha von Meier, Co-Director, Electric Grid Research
info:
6-8 PM PST
RSVP here
UC Berkeley
330 Sutardja Dai Hall, MC 1764
Berkeley, CA 94720-1764

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Morrow Talk Poster

Is it permissible to research solar radiation management?

A talk by Dr. David Morrow, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, George Mason University and FCEA Faculty Fellow, followed by discussion.  The event is open to the public, and will be webcast live here.  An archived version will be available on the FCEA website.

The most pressing question in the governance of solar radiation management (SRM) is what kind(s) of research, if any, ought to be pursued and under what conditions. We can make progress on that question by thinking through some of the major arguments against doing SRM research at all. These are: (1) the “moral hazard argument,” based on concerns about undermining mitigation efforts; (2) the “slippery slope argument,” based on concerns about sliding inevitably into deployment; (3) the “ungovernability argument,” based on concerns about the impossibility of governing SRM deployment in an effective or legitimate way; and (4) the “immorality argument,” based on the claim that we can know in advance that SRM is immoral and so ought not to be considered as a policy option. I argue that none of these arguments provide a conclusive reason to ban further SRM research, but that each offers some guidance about how any further SRM research ought to be governed.

Time: 3:30 – 5:00 pm US EST
School of International Service, Room 300
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wil Burns, Co-Director, FCEA, will speak at the Environmental Studies monthly forum, Sonoma State University

Monday, September 21, 2015

“Why climate engineering and sustainable agriculture need to be part of the same conversation”

A talk by Holly Jean Buck, Cornell University & FCEA Faculty Fellow.  The talk will be open to the public.

Video of the talk can be viewed here.

Climate engineering and agriculture are inextricably linked, both biophysically and psychologically. If climate, energy, and agriculture are part of the same crisis complex, there are many reasons to address CE strategies and agricultural transformation together. However, the cultural binary of geoengineering vs. agroecology as opposing “solutions” to climate change, as well as the complex histories of agrarian reform and present wave of large-scale land acquisitions worldwide, make it difficult to glimpse a vision for joint approaches. We’ll briefly review five major reasons why geoengineering and agriculture are inseparable discussions, explore the roots of why agroecology and geoengineering are often constructed as opposing forces, and brainstorm some ways forward through this thought problem.

Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm US EST
School of International Service, Room 300
American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

“The Role of Human Rights in Considering Climate Engineering Research”

A paper presentation at the Climate Engineering Research Symposium 2015, Berlin, Germany

Presenters:

  • Brian Citro, Clinical Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Patrick Taylor Smith, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University Singapore

 Friday, June 26, 2015

“Climate engineering: The New Frontier of Climate Policy Making?”

A paper presentation at the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences 2015 conference 

With the release of two massive reports in February, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science has added its voice to the growing call for research into climate geoengineering strategies, defined as “options that would involve large-scale engineering of our environment in order to combat or counteract the effects of changes in atmospheric chemistry.” Such approaches include injection of huge quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, or spraying of sea water in martime clouds to deflect incoming solar radiation back to space, as well as strategies to sequester carbon dioxide, e.g. by dispersing iron in the oceans to stimulate phytoplankton production. While these technologies could substantially reduce projected temperature increases, many also pose serious threats to ecosystems and human institutions. The purpose of this panel will be to assess the current status of climate geoengineering, including the role of NGOs in the policy debate, the role of risk assessment and implications for future generations.

Presenters: 

  • Simon Nicholson, Co-Director, FCEA
  • Michael Thompson, Managing Director, FCEA
  • Rachael Somerville, Research Assistant, FCEA

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Global Governance Futures 2025: The Future of Geoengineering Governance

Final Report Presentation at the Brookings Institution

5 May 2015, 12:30-14:00
Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA

The final report presentation by fellows of the Global Governance Futures – Robert Bosch Foundation Multilateral Dialogues. The presentation will take place at the Brookings Institution (Stein Room).

The final report is available for download.undefined

 “Human Intervention in the Earth’s Climate: The Governance of Geoengineering in 2025+”

GGF working group on geoengineering governance: Masahiko Haraguchi, Rongkun Liu, Jaseep Randhawa, Susanne Salz, Stefan Schäfer, Mudit Sharma, Susan Shifflett and Ying Yuan

Panelists

  • David Goldston (Natural Resources Defense Council)
  • Nathan Hultman (White House Council on Environmental Quality)
  • Simon Nicholson (The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment and the School of International Service at American University)

Moderation

Johannes Gabriel (GPPi and Foresight Intelligence)

The presentation will be held according to Chatham House rules.  This event is private with limited seating, and registration is required. If you wish to attend, please register by May 1 with your name and affiliation with an email to:rhsieh@gppi.net

Please visit Global Governance Futures online for more information about the program.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Climate Engineering and Human Rights

A discussion hosted by The International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School [this discussion will be filmed & will be available to the IHRLC website]

page-0

Monday, April 13, 2015

“Climate Engineering: Role of International Law in Considering Research”

A talk by FCEA Co-Director, Wil Burns, for the Faculty of Law, University of Malta

Wendesday, April 1, 2015

“Pros and Cons of Climate Engineering as a Potential Climate Solution”

National Climate Seminar, Center for Environmental Policy, Bard University

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm US EST
Dial In: 1-712-432-3100
Conf Code: 253385

Thursday, March 26, 2015

“The Ethics of Climate Engineering”

A talk by FCEA Co-Director, Wil Burns, as part of the SEGP Conference “Ethical Governance in the 21st Century at Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California.

Friday, March 12, 2015

“Into the Great Wide Open? The Promise and Potential Perils of Climate Engineering”

Dr. Wil Burns, Co-Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment and AESS President will be present.  Read a full description and register for the event on the AESS website.

Description: According to recent analyses by the World Resources Institute, Climate Analytics, and the WWF, the pledges made by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) put the world on course for temperature increases of 3-3.9C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This could have disastrous consequences for human institutions and natural ecosystems, including massive sea level rise, eradication of coral reefs throughout the world, and potentially catastrophic declines in agricultural production, especially in the global South. As a consequence, increasing attention has been devoted to a series of potential responses that were once considered “taboo,” and “forbidden territory,” climate engineering.
12:00pm-1:15pm EDT

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

“The Contentious Politics of Climate Engineering”

A talk by FCEA Co-Director Simon Nicholson at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo, Norway.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“The Ethics of Climate Engineering”

A talk by FCEA Co-Director Wil Burns at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, California.

6-7 pm WST

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dr. Wil Burns on climate engineering on KQV radio, Pittsburgh.

12:30-1 pm EST

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“The Next Big Idea”

Panel briefing at the Environmental Grantmakers Association 2015 Federal Policy Briefing

What do leaders and experts think is the next big idea? What should we be considering in our philanthropy today that will lead to better protection of our air, land and water tomorrow? The concepts and strategies presented might be provocative and trigger creative problem solving. The session will conclude with an opportunity to respond and express an opinion about the likelihood of implementation and success.

Moderator: Brentin Mock, Justice Editor, Grist Magazine

Speakers:

  • Simon Nicholson, Ph.D., Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, American University
  • Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director, US Climate Action Network
  • Mary Christina Wood, Oregon University School of Law
  • Nicole Hernandez Hammer, Moms Clean Air Force

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“What’s Next for Climate Engineering?”

Hosted by Resources for the Future and FCEA

Moderator: Simon Nicholson

Panel:

See video of this event here.

On February 10, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released two major reports on climate engineering (also known as geoengineering), to help inform the ethical, legal, and political discussions on climate “intervention.” At this seminar, a panel of experts will first review the reports’ major findings and then consider their political and economic implications, in addition to addressing the following questions: Is a climate engineering research agenda now warranted? If so, what would it look like? What are the opportunities and dangers that accompany consideration of climate engineering? Will it be seen or sold as an alternative to mitigation and adaptation actions? What are other countries likely to make of the reports, and can climate engineering be part of a strategic package of responses to climate change?

The release of the reports comes at a critical moment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent Fifth Assessment Report suggests that the window for addressing global warming is fast closing. This year, the international community is working toward a post-Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The United States has already announced new bilateral cooperation with China and India on renewable energy development and climate action. Climate engineering has long hovered on the fringes of these conversations. Do the new reports signal that climate engineering has come of age as an accepted response to climate change?

12:45-2:00 pm at RFF, 1st floor conference room
1616 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036

Friday, February 6, 2015

Climate Engineering Scenarios Exercise

FCEA Co-Director, Wil Burns, will direct a workshop for Chinese and American students finalists in the US-China Energy and Environment Case Competition, hosted by the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC) China Focus, University of California, Berkeley.

 Friday, February 6, 2015

“Reimagining Climate Engineering: The Politics of Tinkering with the Sky”

FCEA Co-Director, Simon Nicholson, will deliver a paper for the University of Maryland School of Public Policy “DC Area Climate & Energy Research Workshop.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

“SRM Climate Engineering and Considerations of Intergenerational Equity”

FCEA Co- Director, Wil Burns, will deliver a lecture sponsored by the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) and ASU LightWorks, at Arizona State University.  You can view a flyer for the event here.

Friday, October 24

Climate Geoengineering and the Potential Role of International Law – Panel Discussion

Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium will moderate a panel discussion.

Panelist include:

  • Andrew Strauss, Professor of Law, Widener School of Law
  • Michael Gerrard, Director, Center for Climate Law, Columbia University School of Law.
  • Alfred de Zayas,  Independent Expert for the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of an Equitable and Democratic International Order
info: International Law Weekend time: 930 AM, New York, New York

Thursday, October 9

Human Rights Regimes and Climate Geoengineering Research and Deployment Scenarios

Human Rights Law Clinic at University of Chicago Law School

12:15pm1:20pm
Location: Room IV

Pledges made by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change put the world on course for temperature increases of 3 to 3.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Some researchers believe that even these projections are overly optimistic. Given the potentially disastrous implications of temperature rises of this magnitude, increasing attention has been devoted to climate geoengineering responses to climate change, including solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal approaches. However, discussions of measures to protect the interests of peoples that may be negatively impacted by such interventions have been absent.

A human rights perspective on climate geoengineering highlights the importance of analyzing power relationships and emphasizes the critical importance of effective participation of individuals and communities in decision-making processes affecting their lives. It provides a compelling rationale for transboundary environmental impact assessment, right to information mandates, and other methods to ensure affected populations are represented in the decision-making process. Moreover, human rights regimes provide judicial or quasi-judicial mechanisms to defend the interests of those negatively affected by responses to climate change.

Sponsored by the International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Law Society, Law and Technology Society, and Environmental Law Society.

Thursday, September 18

Policy Dialogue: Do we need international governance of climate engineering? A roundtable discussion

Co-sponsored by EuTRACE (European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering), The Washington Geoengineering Consortium, and the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at The Wilson Center.

Climate engineering (CE) is an umbrella term for a set of techniques that aim to counter climate change, either by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or by increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back to space. In less than ten years, climate engineering has moved from being a fringe topic in scientific circles to international policy and science agendas. Research funding on several related aspects has been increasing in Europe and elsewhere during the last few years. The IPCC recently included climate engineering in the summary for policy makers of its working group I and working group III reports. At the political level, governance for marine climate engineering techniques is being developed by the contracting parties of the London Convention and London Protocol (LC and LP) while the signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are addressing the field more broadly. These developments are taking place against the background of an increasing probability that global average temperatures will surpass the internationally agreed upon 2°C target if the international community relies on emission reductions as the only measure.

The project “European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering” (EuTRACE) is funded by the European Commission and is designed to review the state of the science on climate engineering, and to identify what a possible European perspective on climate engineering could be. As a part of this, a series of policy dialogues are taking place in European capitals in 2014 (France, Germany, Norway, Poland, UK). Three dialogues have already taken place in Oslo, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, and two more are planned in London and Warsaw.

One of the clearest conclusions of our series of dialogues and of the EuTRACE project in general is that international cooperation and coordination are necessary to close gaps in governance, important in order to have a process that is inclusive, that embraces a wide range of viewpoints and interests, and key as a means to build trust and avoid possible tensions between countries.

The objective of the Washington, D.C., dialogue event is to inform U.S. decision-makers and experts on the state of the climate engineering debate and to present policy options for the EU developed by the consortium. The event is meant to contribute to a growing and important transatlantic dialogue. The event will take place under the “Chatham House Rule”, i.e. participants are free to use the knowledge gained in the discussion, but are not allowed to attribute quotations to individuals.

info: New York University, Washington, DC. time: TBA 

Saturday, September 6

Human Rights Considerations and Climate Geoengineering

Dr. Wil Burns will speak about human rights regimes and governance of climate geoengineering research and deployment.

info: 3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy
time: TBA
Yale University New Haven, Connecticut

Thursday, August 21

Strange Bedfellows Political Contestation Over SRM on the Left and Right

This panel discussion will explore ideologically-driven responses to SRM technologies. Talk of SRM development and deployment is producing interesting, and sometimes counter-intuitive, reaction from across the political spectrum. To what extent, and in what ways, is political ideology driving support for, and dismissal of, SRM options? What does an examination of ideology suggest to those wishing to advance the climate geoengineering conversation in productive ways?

  • Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Stuart University in New South Wales, Australia, author of Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering,  member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government
  • Olaf Corry, The Open University
  • Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium
  • Simon Nicholson, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University
info: Climate Engineering Conference 2014 time: 9:00-10:30 AM Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz Berlin, Germany

Wednesday, August 20 

Climate Geoengineering and the Potential Role of Human Rights Regimes

This session will bring together prominent human rights advocates and thinkers from the Global North and the Global South to consider what a privileging of justice and human rights considerations offers to understandings of prominent SRM proposals.

  • Pablo Suarez, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre & Boston University
  • Holly Jean Buck, Cornell University
  • Toby Svoboda, Department of Philosophy, Fairfield University
  • Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University
  • Simon Nicholson, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University
info: Climate Engineering Conference 2014 time: 11:00AM-12:30 PM Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz Berlin, Germany

Abstracts:
Holly Jean Buck- “Climate engineering and climate-induced migration: At the intersection of two emerging policy challenges”

Climate change has been seen as a human rights violation, impacting the rights to food, water, health, housing, and security of tenure. Migration is one avenue for attempting to cope with the loss of these rights, and increasing attention is being devoted to environmentally induced migration. Yet there is much uncertainty around how to proceed: there is no clear international definition of climate migrants, and while bodies such as the UNFCCC and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development have mentioned the issue and called for research, no changes in the legal paradigm have been made. This talk gives a brief overview of the ways institutions, scholars, policymakers are thinking about climate change and migration. Would introducing the idea of geoengineering into this nascent policy arena help or hurt efforts to protect environmental migrants? We’ll then consider the ways in which climate engineering or geoengineering could modify existing or emergent ways of addressing environmental migration and protecting the human rights of those displaced by climate changes.

Toby Svoboda- “Aerosol Geoengineering, Fairness, and Human Rights”

If deployed, aerosol geoengineering (AG) could involve unfairness to both present and future parties by threatening to undermine certain human rights. I discuss three broad risks of unfairness that an AG deployment policy might carry: (1) causing disproportionate harm to those least responsible for climate change, (2) burdening future parties with the costs and risks of AG, and (3) excluding some interested parties from contributing to AG decision-making. Yet despite these risks, it may be too hasty to reject AG deployment as a potential climate change policy. I argue that since it is very unlikely that a completely fair climate change policy will be pursued, we may have ethical reason to prefer some “incompletely fair” policy. Given various facts about our world, it might be the case that some AG policy is ethically preferable to many other feasible climate change policies, even if AG carries deeply problematic risks of unfairness. Moreover, some AG policies might protect certain human rights that would otherwise be threatened by anthropogenic climate change.

Pablo Suarez – “What if ‘rights’ is all that’s left in a geoengineered world?
Explorations on solar radiation management and human rights from a needs-based perspective”

Civil society organizations tend to embrace either a “needs-based” approach (where the focus is to secure that those at risk of suffering do get what they need) or a “rights-based” approach, where the focus is to achieve a positive transformation of power relations among the ‘rights holders’ (who do not experience full rights) and the ‘duty bearers’ (the institutions obligated to fulfill the holders’ rights). The feasibility of deliberately manipulating the global climate poses many concerns regarding human rights, an issue that is being increasingly explored by scholars. This short interactive session will examine, from a needs-based perspective, a range of plausible futures for humanitarian organizations confronted with difficult choices involving scenarios where rights are invoked but not necessarily fulfilled under an imperfectly managed climate. With limited information, participants organized in teams will be invited to make individual decisions with collective consequences – setting the stage for discussion of differing priorities and emerging complexities.

Wil Burns – “What’s missing?”

The purpose of this presentation will be to argue that potential governance of research, and potential deployment of, geoengineering options should be viewed not only through the lens of international environmental regimes and domestic environmental law, but also from a human rights perspective. In developing this argument, I will contend, inter alia, that a human rights perspective highlights the importance of analyzing power relationships, a likely critical consideration in climate geoengineering decision-making, as well as helping us to address potential marginalization of sectors of the world community in decision-making in this context. Moreover, a human rights framework emphasizes the critical importance of effective participation of individuals and communities in decision-making processes affecting their lives, providing a compelling rationale for transboundary environmental impact assessment mandates and other methods to protect the interests of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

July 21-22 

Climate engineering as a response to climate change? Exploring the science, ethics, and governance of solar geoengineering research

 Co-sponsored by University of California at Berkeley & the Environmental Defense Fund

  • Wil Burns will moderate panel discussions “Research Governance Challenges: Macro and Micro Analytical Tools” & “Where does geoengineering fit within the larger climate politics of climate change?”

Friday, July 18

Into the Great Wide Open? Climate Geoengineering Options 

  • Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium
info: School of Marine Science & Policy, University of Delaware, USA

Friday, June 13, 2014

Climate Geoengineering: Perspectives and Philosophies in the Classroom

  • Kate O’Neill, Assistant Professor, Berkeley University
  • Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University
  • Simon Nicholson, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University
info: Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences conference (AESS): “Welcome to the Anthropocene” time: TBA Pace University, New York, New York

 Monday, June 23, 2014

Ocean Iron Fertilization as a Climate Geoengineering and the Role of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Zhejiang University Centre for Ocean Law and Governance/Guanghua Law Schoolis organizing an international symposium on the above theme to be held on 22-23, June 2014.

  • Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University
info: Sustainable Development and the Law of the Sea
Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, China

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The world considers geoengineering: roundtable discussion of IPCC ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’ report

The conversation about whether or not to research, and perhaps ultimately move forward with deployment of climate geoengineering options — large-scale technological interventions designed to tackle climate change — is rapidly gathering steam. Roundly ignored until recently, such proposals are gaining scientific and political legitimacy as the specter of serious impacts associated with climate change increasingly grows. However, climate geoengineering approaches are also being subjected to heightened levels of scrutiny given the potential threat the many of them could pose to human institutions and natural ecosystems. On April 15, at 3:30pm, a panel will convene at American University in Washington DC to consider the current state of the climate geoengineering conversation. The event will be sponsored by American University’s Global Environmental Politics program and by the Washington Geoengineering Consortium. The occasion for the panel will be the release of the final piece of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) fifth assessment report. The IPCC provides periodic authoritative statements of climate science. The IPCC’s Working Group III, which is tasked with assessing “relevant options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere,” will release its section of the fifth assessment report on April 13. The text from Working Group III is reported to devote significant attention to climate geoengineering, which is likely to both further stimulate debate over the merits of this approach. The April 15 panel discussion will provide in-depth summary and analysis of the IPCC’s coverage of climate geoengineering. Moreover, a roundtable discussion with climate experts will address several issues, including the current state of the scientific and policy conversation around climate geoengineering, the social, political and governance implications of climate geoengineering options and the key stakeholders in the debate surrounding climate geoengineering “A commitment to geoengineering could have profound implications for climate policymaking,” concludes Wil Burns of Johns Hopkins University; “it is thus critical that we engage in an open and full-throated discussion of whether we should proceed down this path.”

info: 3:30-5:00 PM American University Hurst Building, Room 206 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Audio from Wil Burns’s presentation is here:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Intergenerational Equity and Solar Radiation Management Climate Geoengineering

Wil Burns, Washington Geoengineering Consortium & Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University

info: 1 PM Environmental Law Society George Washington University School of Law

 Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Climate Geoengineering Fix: What’s at Stake

Simon Nicholson, Washington Geoengineering Consortium

info: Yale-National University of Singapore, Singapore

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hacking the Climate: Political and Ethical Issues with Geo-Engineering

Elizabeth Chalecki, Visiting Research Fellow, Stimson Center Dr. Elizabeth Chalecki will discuss the scientific principles, political and economic issues, and ethical concerns surrounding the climate-altering technologies we know as geo-engineering. From blocking sunlight to removing carbon from the air, these technologies offer the potential to stem the worst effects of anthropogenic climate change. However, they each come with significant and sometimes unanticipated costs, and they may be irreversible. What sorts of questions to we need to ask ourselves now before we let this genie out of the bottle? Sponsored by the Climate and Water Security Initiative, and the Washington Geoengineering Consortium

info: 5:30-6:30pm George Washington University Elliott School, Room 505 1957 E Street NW (map) To RSVP, see here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wil Burns of the Washington Geoengineering Consortium & David Keith of Harvard University 

Security and Sustainability WebinarPart 5 of the International Environmental Security deals with the question of the viability of geo-engineering to reduce greenhouse gases.  Is removing GHGs from the air after emission rather than or in conjunction with abatement realistic or detrimental to mitigation of climate change?  An expert panel will address this issue using the hypothetical scenario of ” India decides to deploy aerosols to combat warming”.

info: 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM EST
to register, see here

January 15, 2014

Engineering the Climate – Who Wins?  A Conversation with Clive Hamilton 

Clive Hamilton will speak about his new book Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering, and about the environmental justice implications of climate engineering proposals. Dr. Hamilton is a prolific author and respected public intellectual. He is a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government, and Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Stuart University in New South Wales, Australia. A panel discussion, moderated by Professor Simon Nicholson, School of International Service, will follow. Panelists:

This talk and panel discussion is sponsored by the Global Environmental Politics Program and the Washington Geoengineering Consortium.

info: 3:00-4:30 PM School of International Service American University (map) free & open to the public

November 4, 2013

Civil Society Meeting on Geoengineering

This meeting, held at the Johns Hopkins University campus in Washington DC, brought together representatives from a wide range of civil society organizations for an open dialogue about geoengineering. You can find a report from that meeting here. Audio of the opening panel discussion can be found below.  The discussion was open to the public and featured:

  • Joe Romm, Fellow at American Progress and is the Founding Editor of Climate Progress
  • Kate Sheppard, Senior Reporter and the Environment and Energy Editor at the Huffington Post
  • Wil Burns, Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University
  • Simon Nicholson, Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University

October 17, 2013

Into the Great Wide Open? A Roundtable Discussion on Climate Change Geoengineering

Moderator: Wil Burns, Associate Director, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University Panelists:

  • Lee Lane, Visiting Scholar, Hudson Institute
  • Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs, Climate Institute, Washington, DC
  • Simon Nicholson, Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of International Service, American University

Click here to listen to an audio recording of the panel discussion.