Accepted paper:

Scenarios, Imaginaries, and SRM Governance


Sean Low (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This project applied scenarios as ‘designed imaginaries’ to methodologically ground discussions of future-oriented challenges for SRM governance, and to emphasize the potential for constructive engagement with imaginaries in exploring and structuring research, governance, and discourse.

Paper long abstract:

Since SRM technologies do not yet exist and capacities to model their impacts are limited, governance proposals are implicitly designed not around realities, but possibilities- baskets of risk and benefit that are often components of sociotechnical imaginaries. The project Solar Radiation Management: Foresight for Governance (SRM4G) aimed to make discussion of such imaginaries explicit, and to nudge the mode of thinking about the future of an engineered climate from predictive to anticipatory. Leveraging the participation of scholars and practitioners heavily engaged in early conversations on SRM governance, SRM4G applied scenario construction to generate a set of alternative futures, each exercising different influences on the need for - and challenges associated with - development of SRM technologies. The scenarios then provided the context for the design of systems of governance with the capacity and legitimacy to respond to those challenges, and for the evaluation of the advantages and drawbacks of different options against a wide range of imaginary but plausible futures. In doing so, SRM4G sought to initiate a conversation within the SRM research community on the capacity of foresight approaches to highlight how central sociotechnical imaginaries are to discussions of SRM's risks and benefits, to examine and challenge the assumptions embedded in conceptualizing SRM's aims, development, and governance, and to discuss the capacity of (or the need for) governance options to adapt to a wide range of possibilities.

panel T133
Tackling climate change by other means: opening up geoengineering governance