Daniele Visioni: Climate Intervention – What Do We Know, What Do We Need to Know, Should We Know It?

Abstract: Climate intervention (or climate engineering, or geoengineering) is a topic that is gaining prominence in mainstream climate policy discourse, especially as the chance of remaining below 1.5 ºC of warming above preindustrial levels fades. It is defined as any deliberate, large scale intervention in the climate system aimed at reducing the harmful effects of the increase in greenhouse gases. As an umbrella term, it usually includes both large scale methods of CO₂ removal from the atmosphere (Carbon Dioxide Removal, CDR) and methods aimed at reducing the incoming sunlight in order to cool the planet (Solar Radiation Modification, SRM). In this talk, I will give an overview of SRM methods, and focus on the diverse sets of challenges they present: technological, ethical and related to governance. CDR or “negative emissions” are now present in almost all “net-zero” plans from both governments and private sector actors, and all major scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) include some; but problems with their probable environmental impacts, land use, trade-offs with food production and technical challenges with their scalability need to be addressed, and uncertainties abound. SRM, while still at the fringe, may offer on the other hand a “cheap and easy” temporary solution capable to ameliorate some of the risks, but far more research would be necessary to understand its potential, limits, and novel risks, and some burning questions remain: whose hand would be on the thermostat, whose consent should be asked before SRM could even start, and can a global governance system capable of ensuring a “just” deployment ever be developed?

Bio: Daniele Visioni is an Assistant Professor in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Cornell University since 2023. He received his PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in 2018 in Italy. With the use of Earth System Models, he researches the impacts of stratospheric aerosols on climate, societies and environments. His research is mostly focused on understanding the potential impacts of Climate Intervention techniques, collaborating across disciplines to understand what information would be needed to produce robust, trustworthy assessments that decision-makers and publics may use to make informed decisions about their eventual deployment. He’s the co-chair of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) and of the Lighthouse Activity on Climate Intervention for the World Climate Research Program.

This event is presented as part of the 2024 Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge Seminar Series:

Most Mondays, Spring Semester 2024, 2:55-4:10pmVia ZoomThis university-wide seminar series is open to the public (via Zoom), and provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from Cornell University and beyond present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue. The seminar is being organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering and Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

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