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Public dialogue on geoengineering

Please note: this consultation is now closed.

The results of the NERC public dialogue on geoengineering have been published, and the full report can be downloaded below. A leaflet summarising the top-level findings in the report is also available.

Geoengineering dialogue final report (PDF, 868KB)

Geoengineering dialogue leaflet (PDF, 1.4MB)

The dialogue was also evaluated independently. The final evaluation report is available below.

Geoengineering evaluation report (PDF, 1.3MB)


NERC carried out a public dialogue on geoengineering to assess public opinion on how future research relating to the subject should be directed, conducted and communicated. We worked in partnership with Sciencewise-ERC, which supports public dialogue activities in government.

As the recent Royal Society report on geoengineering states, the best way to tackle climate change is by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the report notes that:

Unless future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are much more successful than they have been so far, additional action may be required should it become necessary to cool the Earth this century.

Therefore we need to research different potential geoengineering options and their environmental, social and regulatory implications.

Through a series of workshops with members of the public, we explored people's attitudes towards various potential geoengineering methods. At the workshops, participants came together for up to three days to discuss the ethical, moral and social issues associated with the possible use of geoengineering methods to alter our environment. The workshops were also supported by public debates and events around the UK. The dialogue was complementary to our existing research in climate change mitigation.

We also ran an online survey to collect your views on geoengineering research. This has now closed.

NERC will use the results of the dialogue when we update our research strategy in future. Emerging findings will also inform other geoengineering research funded, for example, under the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) programme.

The dialogue process was carried out by external contractors and managed by a steering group of experts representing academia, government, NGOs and industry. A list of steering group members is below.

Steering group members (PDF, 13KB)

What is geoengineering?

Geoengineering is "the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth's climate system, in order to moderate global warming," according to the Royal Society report published in September 2009†.

It includes technologies which could either remove CO2 from the atmosphere or reduce global temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into space.

NERC and other research councils already support a wide range of science relevant to this subject, but far more research is needed before any geoengineering method could be seriously considered for deployment.

† Geoengineering the climate. The Royal Society.