Ethics and Geoengineering: An Overview

  • Stephen M. GardinerEmail author
Part of the Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment book series (ETHICSSCI, volume 46)


There is widespread agreement that ethical concerns are central to decision-making about, and governance of, geoengineering. This is especially true of the most prominent and paradigm example of climate engineering, the spraying of sulfate particles into the stratosphere in order to block incoming sunlight and so limit global warming (hereafter, ‘stratospheric sulfate injection’ (SSI)). Geoengineering ethics, like geoengineering science, is still in its early, exploratory days. This chapter offers an introductory overview of the emerging discussion and some of the challenges moving forward, taking SSI as its key example. It identifies a range of values relevant to geoengineering, exposes some misleading early framings, argues that questions of justification and context are both important, and summarizes the Tollgate principles for geoengineering governance. One theme is that despite the initial agreement on the centrality of ethics, in practice there are profound risks that ethical considerations will be marginalized, both in the short-term as research is developed, and in the longer-run, in any deployment.


Solar radiation management Climate justice Environmental justice Perfect moral storm Geoengineering governance Tollgate principles 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Program on EthicsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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