Political legitimacy in decisions about experiments in solar radiation management

In William C. G. Burns & Andrew Strauss (eds.), Climate Change Geoengineering: Philosophical Perspectives, Legal Issues, and Governance Frameworks. Cambridge University Press (2013)
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Some types of solar radiation management (SRM) research are ethically problematic because they expose persons, animals, and ecosystems to significant risks. In our earlier work, we argued for ethical norms for SRM research based on norms for biomedical research. Biomedical researchers may not conduct research on persons without their consent, but universal consent is impractical for SRM research. We argue that instead of requiring universal consent, ethical norms for SRM research require only political legitimacy in decision-making about global SRM trials. Using Allen Buchanan & Robert Keohane's model of global political legitimacy, we examine several existing global institutions as possible analogues for a politically legitimate SRM decision-making body.

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David R. Morrow
American University


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