Buying Time with Climate Engineering? An Analysis of the Buying Time Framing in Favor of Climate Engineering.

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. 


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