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SRM Science 2015 - Engineering the Climate

12 - 14 March 2015 - Cambridge, UK . . . . Twitter: @SRMscience #srms15

Studying at Cambridge


About SRM Science

Climate engineering is rapidly becoming a contentious issue within political, scientific, and cultural discussions of climate change, in part due to a perceived lack of progress on crucial emission reductions. The recently released IPCC WG1 report suggests that without swift and dramatic mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming could easily exceed the internationally promoted upper limit of 2°C, creating risks which may prove intolerable. Climate engineering may be a dangerous distraction from the hard work required to reduce emissions to near zero. But global emission rates have not even started to decline, and RCP 2.6, the IPCC scenario that is associated with a 50-90% chance of staying below the 2°C threshold within the 21st century, assumes large-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies in addition to rapid investment in mitigation and widespread use of bio-energy. Indeed, to stay within this temperature threshold, the IPCC estimates that the maximum amount of carbon added to the atmosphere through anthropogenic emissions cannot exceed about 1,000 gigatons – 510 of which were already emitted by 2011, with currently about 10 more gigatons being added each year.

Are climate engineering approaches fatally prone to error and misuse, and worth excluding from the climate conversation on both practical and moral grounds? Are they an emergency measure which could have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences if deployed? Could they be a relatively straightforward remedy for some of the consequences of climate change? And how should research aimed at these questions be regulated?

These questions, and many others raised by the prospect of climate engineering, involve diverse ethical, social, political and technical issues which are extraordinarily complex and incredibly interlinked. The recent Climate Engineering Conference 2014 (CEC14) in Berlin provided an opportunity for the research, policy and civic communities to engage with these issues across a wide range of viewpoints. From these critical global discussions, we, the SRM Science 2015 organising committee, identified an urgent need for a forum for sharing the latest science and engineering research findings relating to climate engineering. It was clear from the discussions in Berlin that climate engineering is a diverse and complex field, and the two types of climate engineering - carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) each have their own particular technical, social, ethical and political issues. For this reason, and because many of us are involved solely in SRM research, we have decided to focus this conference on SRM technologies. We would be delighted if a similar conference on CDR Science were to take place.  

SRM Science 2015 is open to all those who are interested in this topic, and we are looking forward to welcoming participants from a wide range of disciplines, sectors (particularly academia, policy and civil society), geographical regions, cultures, and generations. The primary purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for scientists and engineers to present and discuss recent research results in a manner that is comprehensible to all participants. Apart from the technical sessions and keynote lectures, there will also be opportunities to exchange ideas, network and collaborate on all aspects of SRM. We hope that you will find this conference to be a stimulating, thought-provoking and constructive experience.


This background information has been adapted with permission from the Climate Engineering Conference 2014.