Journal Article

Public perceptions of climate engineering: Laypersons’ acceptance at different levels of knowledge and intensities of deliberation

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 28/4(2019): 348–355

Even if societies decarbonized rapidly, it is unlikely that they will achieve the 1.5°C target without also resorting to CO2 removal, by means, for example, of bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Such methods were included in the special report Global Warming of 1.5°C published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018. This report also discusses solar radiation management, such as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) which might be used to change global temperatures. However, public debate about the acceptability of these methods remains absent. We look at laypersons’ perceptions of BECCS and SAI at three stylized stages of increasing knowledge and deliberation. We found a high level of uncertainty among survey respondents as to whether to accept the use of these methods, which decreases when additional information is supplied by stakeholders. When comparing survey participants to members of a citizens’ jury, we found lower levels of acceptance for SAI and similar levels for BECCS among jury members who had deliberated the methods intensively. Despite fears of distracting from the aim of reducing emissions, decision-makers should publicly discuss these methods to avoid planning based on incorrect assumptions about the political feasibility of CO2 removal. People want to be informed about both approaches and the threat of SAI makes them focus their attention on mitigation.

Authors

Geraldine Klaus
Julia Pohlers
Andreas Ernst
Konrad Ott
Katrin Rehdanz - Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) / Kiel Institute for the World Economy
Katrin Rehdanz