Oxford Geoengineering Programme

The Oxford Martin Programme on Geoengineering was established in 2010 and concluded in 2022. The following page is an archived resource.

The Challenge

The Oxford Geoengineering Programme seeks to engage with society about the issues associated with geoengineering and conduct research into some of the proposed techniques.

Geoengineering is the deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to address climate change. Although we believe that society’s first priority should be to reduce global carbon emissions, in dealing with climate change it may be wise to consider geoengineering the climate to reduce the harmful levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The programme does not advocate implementing geoengineering, but it does advocate conducting research into the social, ethical and technical aspects of geoengineering. This research must be conducted in a transparent and socially informed manner.

Our programme is a unique partnership that includes engineers, natural scientists and experts in governance to focus equally on robust science and thoroughly considered ethics. A core component of our activity includes engagement with policy makers, opinion formers and environmental NGOs to build a collaborative and multi-perspective platform for open debate.

The Principles

The “Oxford Principles” are a proposed set of initial guiding principles for the governance of geoengineering.

Principle 1: Geoengineering to be regulated as a public good.

While the involvement of the private sector in the delivery of a geoengineering technique should not be prohibited, and may indeed be encouraged to ensure that deployment of a suitable technique can be effected in a timely and efficient manner, regulation of such techniques should be undertaken in the public interest by the appropriate bodies at the state and/or international levels.

Principle 2: Public participation in geoengineering decision-making

Wherever possible, those conducting geoengineering research should be required to notify, consult, and ideally obtain the prior informed consent of, those affected by the research activities. The identity of affected parties will be dependent on the specific technique which is being researched – for example, a technique which captures carbon dioxide from the air and geologically sequesters it within the territory of a single state will likely require consultation and agreement only at the national or local level, while a technique which involves changing the albedo of the planet by injecting aerosols into the stratosphere will likely require global agreement.

Principle 3: Disclosure of geoengineering research and open publication of results

The escalating patterns of migration are sparking increasing apprehensions regarding their repercussions on the well-being of both refugees and host communities. Our research is specifically geared towards investigating the effectiveness of interventions designed to facilitate the integration of refugees into host communities, with a particular focus on augmenting their access to diverse economic opportunities.

Principle 4: Independent assessment of impacts

In much of the world, gender inequalities in agency, decision-making authority, labour market access, and educational opportunities persist. These disparities are deeply entrenched in cultural attitudes and are passed down from one generation to the next. Our studies highlight the pivotal role of teachers in shaping the gender attitudes of students and examine the impact of shifting teachers' attitudes towards gender rights on students' attitudes.

Principle 5: Governance before deployment

Any decisions with respect to deployment should only be taken with robust governance structures already in place, using existing rules and institutions wherever possible.


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