Aims & Architecture


The project’s key objectives are:

  • to provide a timely basis to the governance of geoengineering through robust research on the ethical, legal, social and geopolitical implications of a range of geoengineering approaches, building on the foundations of the Oxford Principles on Geoengineering Governance;
  • to offer guidelines on the governance and regulation that might support the pursuit of various policy objectives and the machinery that might be required;
  • to use this research as the basis of a dialogue between key stakeholders on the possible role of geoengineering in relation to approaches to the management of climate change through mitigation and adaptation. This dialogue will build on existing processes of UK and international engagement to be organised by the Oxford Geoengineering Programme from spring 2011;
  • to recommend further research which may support future decisions on these issues.

Project Architecture

Work in CGG is grouped around three themes. Work packages under these themes are supported by workshops that will help to integrate the insights from the work package elements, and generate increased engagement with policymakers, practitioners and representatives of civil society as the project proceeds.

  1. Framings of Geoengineering. How is geoengineering currently framed in sociotechnical and legal terms? What can we learn about its characteristics in relation to the multilevel governance challenges of other complex technologies to emerge in recent times, or from attempts to manage complexity in the financial system in the light of the crisis? What conceptions of justice and fairness might be used to frame our approach to its regulation? What current treaties and laws bear upon it? What other broad purposes, other than the mitigation of climate change itself, might geoengineering governance pursue?
  2. Dilemmas of Control of Geoengineering Technologies. What particular governance challenges and opportunities does geoengineering present – in assessing benefits and risks, in public acceptability, in the risks of lock-in and path dependency, in avoiding “appraisal optimism” in assessing the economic case, in appropriate use of precaution in the face of uncertainty, and in international relations – and how might we try to deal with these? How do we see it working as a system of innovation – who would experiment or implement what, where, and what capacity building and technology transfer might be involved? Work planned under this theme includes world regional workshops in China, India, Africa and Brazil.
  3. Choosing Governance and Regulatory Requirements. How would governance and regulatory arrangements work in practice both within and between jurisdictions? Can they be sensitive and adaptive enough to respond to changes in impacts or criteria? What new rulemaking and procedural harmonisation would be required, and could the buy-in of various interests be secured? Are the domestic controls in place to meet these requirements in a variety of key jurisdictions? Finally, what wider lessons for the assessment, regulation and governance of emerging technologies can we learn from the geoengineering case? Work includes scenario workshops with stakeholders in helping to define possible circumstances in which different approaches to geoengineering might be the subject of experiment or deployment, and the governance approaches required

Work Packages

Click the theme headings to reveal further information.