Ethical aspects

Climate engineering technologies have been discussed from an ethical perspective for more than a decade (e.g., Gardiner, 2011; Preston, 2016), mostly focusing on so-called solar radiation management. Recently, interest in ethical issues related to CDR has increased, but most contributions focus on terrestrial methods, especially bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) (e.g., Lenzi et al., 2018). Accordingly, there have been very few studies that have extensively addressed the ethics and equity of marine CDR methods. Minx et al. (2018) recently concluded, „there is currently very little ethical analysis of NETs“. Consequently, there are calls for ethical analyses to be given much greater prominence in future research on CDR (Lenzi et al., 2018). While there is now a substantial body of literature on the normative assessment of climate engineering, little has been written about criteria for evaluating these technologies. However, a debate is emerging on criteria for evaluating climate policies (see, e.g., Gewirtzmann et al., 2018). As before, however, what needs to be explored in depth here is how the various evaluation criteria are related: are some more important than others, are there conflicts or even contradictions between different criteria, and do they ultimately rely on commensurable or incommensurable values (in the case of the latter, how does one deal with them)? It seems promising to relate these climate policy assessment criteria to marine CDR and combine them with criteria developed specifically for this context (GESAMP 2019). Here, we can draw on previous work that discusses, among other things, the use of normative equity and non-normative feasibility criteria within a holistic assessment framework (Baatz, 2017; 2018).


Baatz, C.(2017), Compensating Climate Change Victims in Developing Countries – Justification and Realization, Ph.D. thesis, University of Greifswald.

Baatz, C. (2018), Climate Adaptation Finance and Justice. A Criteria-Based Assessment of Policy Instruments. Analyse & Kritik, 40(1), 73–106.

Gardiner, S. M. (2011), A perfect moral storm: The ethical tragedy of climate change. Environmental ethics and science policy series. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 518p.

Gewirtzman, J., Natson, S., Richards, J.A., Hoffmeister, V., Durand, A., & Weikmans, R., et al. (2018), Financing loss and damage: reviewing options under the Warsaw International Mechanism. Climate Policy, 18(8), 1076–1086.

GESAMP (2019), High level review of a wide range of proposed marine geoengineering techniques. (Boyd, P.W. and Vivian, C.M.G., eds.). (IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UN Environment/UNDP/ISA Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection). Rep. Stud. GESAMP No. 98, 144 p.

Lenzi, D., Lamb, W. F., Hilaire, J., Kowarsch, M., & Minx, J. C. (2018), Don’t deploy negative emissions technologies without ethical analysis. Nature, 561(7723), 303–305.

Minx et al. (2018), Negative Emissions – part 1: Research landscape and synthesis. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 063001. http://doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aabf9b

Preston, C. J. (2016), Climate justice and geoengineering: Ethics and policy in the atmospheric Anthropocene. London: Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd, 234p..