Sustainable Climate Engineering Innovation and the Need for Accountability

In Henrik Skaug Sætra (ed.), Technology and Sustainable Development: The Promise and Pitfalls of Techno-Solutionism. Routledge. pp. 1-21 (2023)
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Although still highly controversial, the idea that we can use technology to radically alter our environment in order to mitigate the climate challenges we now face is becoming an ever more discussed approach. This chapter takes up a specific climate engineering technology, carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS), and highlights how this technology works and how its governance still needs further work to ensure that it is aligned to the ideal of sustainable development. Given that climate engineering technologies like CCUS have the potential to ameliorate many of the climate issues and support the SDGs, there remains a lacuna of inserting these globally impactful technologies within a normative political framework to respect that proper responsibility is attributed. The aim of the chapter is to examine the concept of accountability, how it has been traditionally understood in the literature, and why a polysemic and multidimensional account of accountability is required if climate engineering technologies like CCUS are actually to support sustainable development. This may serve as a first theoretically informed basis for reflection on how to create a synergy between the responsible deployment of climate engineering innovation and the achievement of the SDGs targets, one that can shed light on how justifications and decisions about sustainable strategies and constraints are managed, taken and communicated.

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