Highly decentralized solar geoengineering

Environmental Politics, Forthcoming

18 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021

See all articles by Jesse L Reynolds

Jesse L Reynolds

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law

Gernot Wagner

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies; New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Date Written: November 1, 2018

Abstract

Nonstate actors appear to have increasing power, in part due to new technologies that alter actors’ capacities and incentives. Although solar geoengineering is typically conceived of as centralized and state-deployed, we explore highly decentralized solar geoengineering. Done perhaps through numerous small high-altitude balloons, it could be provided by nonstate actors such as environmentally motivated nongovernmental organizations or individuals. Conceivably tolerated or even covertly sponsored by states, highly decentralized solar geoengineering could move presumed action from the state arena to that of direct intervention by nonstate actors, which could in turn, disrupt international politics and pose novel challenges for technology and environmental policy. We conclude that this method appears technically possible, economically feasible, and potentially politically disruptive. Decentralization could, in principle, make control by states difficult, perhaps even rendering such control prohibitively costly and complex.

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, Jesse L and Wagner, Gernot, Highly decentralized solar geoengineering (November 1, 2018). Environmental Politics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3471699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3471699

Jesse L Reynolds (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law ( email )

3508 TC Utrecht
Utrecht
Netherlands

Gernot Wagner

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies ( email )

285 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

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