Authored by Dr. Shuchi Talati
Over the last few years, I’ve spent my time digging into many aspects of solar geoengineering governance. It’s a fascinating yet slow-moving space as national and international governments continue to shy away from the topic. However, interest and research are starting to grow, and information on these updates can be hard to find.
To help promote discussion and provide updates on solar geoengineering, I’ll be writing pieces as well as editing submissions for the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment’s blog. I’ll be tracking governance issues in the solar geoengineering space, both domestically in the United States and internationally, exploring topics like US federal appropriations, the forthcoming US National Academies report, and developments around the IPCC’s sixth assessment report. I also currently sit on the SCoPEx independent advisory committee, which is focused on providing a model for expert and societal assessment and oversight for a proposed atmospheric experiment. As the committee releases its plans and recommendations, I plan to write about them in more detail here, as well as invite guest authors to share their perspectives.
My work in solar geoengineering has focused on determining what research governance for atmospheric experiments should ideally entail. Even exploratory research on solar geoengineering tends to be a lightning rod of controversy, with the conversation often limited to a small community of experts. Research governance asks the question: Should solar geoengineering experiments proceed and, if so, under what conditions? I believe a core component of those conditions is public participation. I recently co-authored an issue brief in my previous role at the Union of Concerned Scientists that looks at how we can strengthen public input into decisionmaking over future experiments. The core message of this brief is that societal decisions about solar geoengineering approaches, both their role and research on them, must be built on a more inclusive and deliberative platform. Atmospheric experiments, even small-scale ones, raise important questions about larger-scale research and potential deployment. Science plays an incredibly important role in society in countless ways, but is an institution itself that must be held accountable. Public participation is an opportunity for new and diverse thought, a way to ensure responsible and inclusive decisionmaking, and an essential part of ensuring an effective solar geoengineering research enterprise.
This controversial field remains as important as ever, especially as global momentum around mitigation, adaptation and carbon removal are not nearly as high they should be. We want to open up a space to write and share pieces from a diverse audience. If you want to contribute to this ongoing dialogue – write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be taking over as editor for the FCEA blog, and we want to revive this forum as a place for people to discuss their ideas and perspectives.
Shuchi Talati is currently a Senior Policy Advisor at Carbon180 where she focuses on policies to build sustainable and equitable technological carbon removal at scale. Prior to that, she was the Geoengineering Research, Governance and Public Engagement Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists where she worked to guide sound governance around solar geoengineering and carbon removal approaches to limit global warming. Dr. Talati was also the 2017-2018 AAAS/AIP Congressional Science Fellow in the offices of Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) where she focused on the climate and energy portfolio. Before working in Congress, she was a postdoctoral fellow in science policy at the American Meteorological Society and served at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama Administration. Dr. Talati earned a BS in environmental engineering from Northwestern University, an MA in climate and society from Columbia University, and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in engineering and public policy.