Negative Emissions: The Next Bright Shiny Object in Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Reductions

In ongoing debate over how to slow and stop climate change, the past year or so has seen a large shift of attention and interest toward technological options to remove CO2 from the atmosphere after it is emitted – options generally lumped under the headings “Carbon dioxide removal” (CDR) or “negative emissions technologies” (NETs). These …


How the Coronavirus is (Not) Like Climate Change

The two have some informative parallels, although some observers draw the wrong conclusions

The coronavirus dominates the news and much of our minds. Here at Legal Planet, we have written about the coronavirus and presidential powers, disaster declarations, fossil fuel production, decision-making under uncertainty, inequality, and cities. I will join the party and consider what are the parallels and differences between the coronavirus crisis and anthropogenic climate change, …


Europe Mulls its First Climate Law

European Union flag

What would it do in terms of emissions targets and likely actual mitigation?

The European Union is, if one treats it as a country, the world’s third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It has also been a leader in emissions reduction (“mitigation”), and its per capita emissions are merely 43% of the US’s. The EU government is presently considering a major new climate law that will set …


Maxing Out NEPA: Environmental Review of Early Solar Geoengineering Field Research


Done right, environmental review can reach what worries people most about climate engineering

A few months ago, Congress earmarked $4 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to research: stratospheric conditions and the Earth’s radiation budget, including the impact of the introduction of material into the stratosphere from changes in natural systems, increased air and space traffic, proposals to inject material to affect climate, and the …


Antacids for the Sea: Artificial Ocean Alkalinization

A potential tool for adaptation and carbon removal, but more research is needed.

The carbonate cycle helps make the oceans one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet. As the oceans’ surface waters mingle with the open air, they absorb enormous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), storing it in the water as carbonic acid and carbonates and as limestone on the seafloor. The carbonate cycle is a …


We Can’t Count on Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change

Last week’s climate summit yielded little in the way of action. Photo via UNFCCC.

Although reducing emissions remains essential, it is time to focus on additional responses

Last month, representatives of all countries gathered for their annual meeting to prevent climate change. Despite the motto “Time for Action,” the New York Times described it as “one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations.” Should we be surprised? Disappointed? Despairing? I believe that insufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — …


Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and the New York Times

The Montreal Protocol offers lessons for climate change, but not a role model

In an extended piece yesterday, The New York Times editorial board wrote that “The World Solved the Ozone Problem. It Can Solve Climate Change. The same tools that fixed the ozone hole — science, innovation and international action — can address.” Although the editorial was mostly correct, it missed what I believe to be the …


Glacial Geoengineering and the Law of Antarctica

Could mega-adaptation projects in Antarctica slow the rise of global sea levels?

As the planet warms over the coming centuries, glacial melt in Greenland and Antarctica will lead to significant sea level rise. This phenomenon threatens to flood coastal cities, submerge island nations, and displace hundreds of millions of people. Coastal adaptation projects underway give us a glimpse into how we will respond to this future. Some …


Sixth International Geoengineering Governance Summer School, 2019

A brief report from a recent Emmett-convened event

As the severity of climate change risks and the inability of current efforts to adequately limit risks become clear, geoengineering technologies – active large-scale environmental interventions to reduce disruptions caused by elevated greenhouse gases – are increasingly receiving attention and generating controversy. These proposals would either remove and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide or modify the …


Uncovering the Origins of False Claims in the Solar Geoengineering Discourse

ISO, the International Organization for Standardization

The story behind a recent news article reveals how activist groups—with the media’s help—cause misleading and false assertions to arise, persist, and spread.

Originally posted at Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program. Much of my work concerns solar geoengineering, a set of proposals to block or reflect a small portion of incoming sunlight in order to reduce global warming. Unfortunately, the discourse is rife with specious, misrepresented, and outright false statements – many of which are consistent with intuition – …