Professor Steve Rayner, Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, is referenced in a recent article by The Economist, following his presentation to an international meeting of experts on the topic of geoengineering – broadly interpreted as deliberately, rather than accidentally, changing the world’s climate.
The international meeting comprised researchers, policy experts, social scientists and journalists, who gathered last month in Asilomar in California for the International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies.
Geoengineering is an umbrella term for large-scale actions intended to combat the climate-changing effects of greenhouse-gas emissions without actually curbing those emissions. Wide-ranging and controversial views surround the debate, but it is also broadly agreed that far greater research into the science, ethics and governance of geoengineering proposals is urgently needed.
Participants at the conference generally endorsed a set of five overarching principles for the regulation of the field that were presented recently to the British Parliament by Professor Steve Rayner.
The “Oxford principles”, as they are known, hold that geoengineering should be regulated as a public good, in that, since people cannot opt out, the whole proceeding has to be in a well-defined public interest; that decisions defining the extent of that interest should be made with public participation; that all attempts at geoengineering research should be made public and their results disseminated openly; that there should be an independent assessment of the impacts of any geoengineering research proposal; and that governing arrangements be made clear prior to any actual use of the technologies.