How to Meet a Global Challenge? Climate Engineering at the Science-Policy Nexus: Contested Understandings of Responsible Research and Governance


The project aims at better understanding if, how, and to what effect CE is part of processes of redrafting the ways in which the global challenge of climate change has been addressed both scientifically and politically. The project will be unique in its approach to combine analysis of the Priority Programme (SPP) itself and the wider arenas of research and policy-making.
The project will focus on the perspectives from which actors from various domains of society – in particular, science, policy-making and civil society – articulate and envision CE, hereby reasoning about epistemic, normative, and institutional issues of climate change. The analytic framework will build on methods and concepts developed in previous research, combining approaches to discourse analysis, science communication research, regime analysis, and anticipatory governance of science and technology. In addition to scientific and policy documents, we will analyze expert interviews and data generated through participant observation within and beyond the SPP.
By situating the SPP in the broader landscape of debate and decision-making, we aim at advancing capacity building in the SPP, enabling it to better understand, and operate in, the unfolding network of CE-related controversies, interactions and strategies.


K E Y   O B J E C T I V E S

  • Examine how different notions of “responsibility” are conceived of and communicated by researchers, policy-makers, and interested publics engaged in assessing or governing CE, taking into account differences between the exemplary approaches selected by the SPP (atmospheric aerosols, ocean alkalinity, and afforestation).
  • Identify distinct epistemic communities concerning CE and the shifting boundaries between climate science and climate policy, in particular key issues such as knowledge validity, control in experimentation or technology deployment, appropriate prevention and precaution, or democratic legitimacy.
  • Substantively contribute to the SPP by adopting an agenda of research and engagement oriented towards anticipatory governance of science and technology in society, focusing on foresight, interdisciplinary knowledge integration, science communication and public engagement.


Project at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt: Climate Change Assessment and Governance: Controversies over Climate Engineering in Arenas of Science and Policy-making

Work packages:

1. CE, responsible research and governance: discourses in scientific and policy arenas
2. Epistemic communities of CE
3. Public engagement with CE research

Project at TU Darmstadt: Climate Change Assessment and Responsible Research: Science Communication within the Priority Programme on Climate Engineering

Work packages:

4. SPP as a “responsibility initiative of science”
5. Articulations of responsibility in the SPP projects
6. Science communication of CE research

Science and Responsibility

Impression from the analysis of the SPP 1689 within the sub-project SciPol

International Research Partners

  • USA: Prof. Clark Miller (Arizona State University)
  • UK: Prof. Andy Stirling (University of Sussex), Dr. Jack Stilgoe (University College London), project on “Climate Geoengineering Governance”, funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)