Highlighting public voices in CDR decision making

The If, the How and the Whether of Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies

The Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, the University of Calgary, the Museum of Science, Boston, and ECAST Network partners join forces in an innovative Carbon Dioxide Removal Technology Research Project.

From the beginning of the industrial revolution to today, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and atmospheric concentrations have skyrocketed. The long-theorized consequences of this pollution have started to become reality in recorded phenomena across the globe. Given this backdrop coupled with past failures to meet pledged climate commitments, drastic measures will be necessary to meet the aggressive international climate goals of the century. While progress is being made on significantly reducing CO2 emissions through wide-ranging initiatives on energy efficiency and renewable energy, emission reduction strategies may not be enough on their own. With this in mind, scientists and engineers have proposed planetary scale intervention of another kind: removing existing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.

There are a wide range of proposed CDR technologies, from straightforward options such as planting new forests to novel and complex ones such as Climateworks AG’s recent announcement of successful machinery-driven CO2 capture and storage. As the science and engineering behind these technologies progress, however, so too must the answers to accompanying ethical, legal, and social questions, including who would benefit and who would suffer, where the technology might be located, who would fund the research and bear the cost, and how should decisions be made.

To address these questions, the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University (ASU), the University of Calgary (UC) and the Museum of Science, Boston (MOS), through generous seed funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, are excited to announce a new research initiative that will engage diverse regions and communities across the United States and Canada in informed and inclusive dialogues on CDR technology research, assessment, and governance. This cutting-edge, international project will apply state-of-the-art participatory technology assessment methodology developed by the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network led by ASU and MOS, coupled with innovative poly-centric governance frameworks developed by UC.  The project is the first of its kind to frame social, technical, ethical, and legal issues from both expert and public perspectives, convening public forums in multiple regions of the United States and Canada and sharing the results with the experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels.