Solar radiation management: An evolving climate policy option
About This Event

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.


4:15 PM

4:30 PM
Opening Remarks

4:35 PM
J. Eric Bickel, University of Texas at Austin
Lee Lane, Hudson Institute

5:05 PM
Thomas Schelling, University of Maryland

Kevin A. Hassett, AEI

5:30 PM
Question-and-Answer Session
Kevin A. Hassett, AEI

6:00 PM
Adjournment and Reception

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

J. Eric Bickel is an assistant professor in the Graduate Program in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a fellow at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy. Bickel’s research and teaching interests are broadly focused in the area of decision making under uncertainty, and his primary application area is the energy arena. Bickel’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, and dozens of local and regional media sources. His work has also been featured in the documentary “Cool It,” which was part of the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate Project and was selected by a panel of economists, including four Nobel laureates, as the best response to climate change.

Kevin A. Hassett is the director of economic policy studies and a senior fellow at AEI. Before joining AEI, he was a senior economist on the board of governors of the US Federal Reserve System, an associate professor of economics and finance at Columbia Business School, and a policy consultant to the US Department of the Treasury during the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations. He served as an economic adviser during the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, as chief economic adviser to Senator John McCain during the 2000 presidential primaries, and as senior economic adviser during the McCain 2008 presidential campaign. Hassett also writes a column for National Review.

Lee Lane joined the Hudson Institute as a visiting scholar in 2010; he is also a consultant to NERA Economic Consultants. Lane has been codirector of the Geoengineering Project at AEI, executive director of the Climate Policy Center, vice president for research at CSX Corporation, and vice president for policy at the Association of American Railroads, and he founded the consulting firm Policy Services Inc. He is the author of “Strategic Options for the Bush Administration Climate Policy” (AEI Press, 2006), and he has authored or coauthored numerous policy briefing papers, articles, and book chapters. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration selected Lane to be the lead author of a report on geoengineering as a tool of climate policy. He has published columns or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Time magazine, The Washington Times, Regulation, Milken Review, and many other outlets. Lane has testified before the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology and has frequently been an invited expert at policy conferences. He is currently serving as an expert reviewer to Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thomas C. Schelling is a distinguished professor emeritus of economics at the University of Maryland. In 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for enhancing the "understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1991, he was president of the American Economic Association, of which he is now a distinguished fellow. He was the recipient of the Frank E. Seidman Distinguished Award in Political Economy and the National Academy of Sciences award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War. In 1990, he left the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy. He has also served in the Economic Cooperation Administration in Europe and has held positions in the White House and Executive Office of the President, Yale University, the RAND Corporation, and the Department of Economics and Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Most recently, he has published on military strategy and arms control, energy and environmental policy, climate change, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism. Schelling is best known for his books “The Strategy of Conflict” and “Micromotives and Macrobehavior.”

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