Dissertation by Frederike Neuber
Karlsruher Institute for Technology 2018
Can climate engineering help provide more time for an ambitious mitigation program? And if so, is a buying time deployment of climate engineering morally acceptable? The work at hand means to thoroughly scrutinize this specific argument of the climate engineering discourse – the buying time argument (BT-argument). The point of departure of this research is the notion that climate engineering (CE) is not inherently morally wrong. The guiding question is: Is there a possible buying time deployment of a climate engineering technology absent any general moral constraints? This question will be answered in several steps: First, a deductively valid version of the BT-argument is established. In particular, this argument implies that deployment of CE is to be finite and should not interfere with mitigation efforts. Containing a placeholder for a specific climate goal and a placeholder denoting a specific CE technology, the argument can only be fully evaluated, if the placeholders are instantiated. By doing so, this thesis aims at providing a comprehensive discussion of two CE technologies, Sulfate Aerosol Injection (SAI) and Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), and sheding some light on the moral aspects of potential CE deployment. The preliminary conclusion states that a finite and strictly purpose bound deployment of SAI might be morally sound, but the boundary conditions for such a deployment must be guaranteed by political efforts. The work at hand also highlights the importance of further research, especially with respect to negative emission technologies.