Solar radiation management: An evolving climate policy option

Video

Event Summary

Given the spotty history of international emissions agreements and the potentially serious effects of climate change, what avenues should policymakers pursue to mitigate climate change's risk? On Wednesday evening at AEI, Lee Lane of the Hudson Institute and J. Eric Bickel of the University of Texas at Austin presented new research on solar radiation management (SRM), which they proposed should be part of the solution. Bickel contended that even steep and costly emissions reductions cannot eliminate the possibility of significant warming. However, he suggested that SRM may be able to lessen the warming associated with elevated greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, and thus should be the focus of additional research.

Lane discussed the developments in SRM over the past three years, describing how existing technology is unlikely to substantially lower the cost of reducing GHG emissions. He also addressed the shrinking legislative space for environmental regulations in the wake of the failed Waxman-Markey Bill, the growing discussion surrounding adaptation, and the risk associated with SRM.

Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling then commented on the types of research that are needed to flesh out SRM's possibilities, pointing to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines as a missed opportunity for researchers to examine the climate effects of SRM. Specifically, Shelling emphasized the need to determine the duration and variability of SRM's effect on the climate.
--Brad Wassink

Event Description

As hopes for curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions wane, interest in solar radiation management (SRM) continues to rise. A number of experts speculate that SRM might offset some of the harm from climate change by slightly enhancing the reflectiveness of Earth’s atmosphere. As the controversy over climate policy has grown, it has been said that GHG control is too hard but SRM is too easy.

A new paper by Lee Lane of the Hudson Institute and J. Eric Bickel of the University of Texas at Austin probes the truth of these propositions. The paper shows the potential economic benefits of SRM but also explores its risks. It argues that effective GHG control is likely to remain elusive but that barriers in international governance will probably impede hasty action on SRM, leading to hard bargaining and gridlock.

Join AEI for a discussion of this new research with the authors and Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling. A reception will follow.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

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