Climate Intervention: The Case for Research

Climate change policy needs to be able to anticipate and plan for the possibility of rapidly escalating or abrupt changes that dramatically escalate risks to public safety. Achieving net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases is essential to solving the climate change problem. However, due to the climate system’s inertia, even rapid emission reductions may not produce a sufficiently fast response to prevent the climate system from crossing critical thresholds that lead to abrupt and possibly irreversible change. This paper argues that there is an urgent need for research on climate intervention as a potential means of addressing abrupt change, and counters common objections. It argues that research would (1) improve our understanding of the likelihood of abrupt changes and our ability to respond safely and effectively; (2) supply governments, stakeholders, and the public with the information needed to assess and make evidence-based decisions about climate interventions; (3) help address the risks of climate change for future generations and for vulnerable countries, especially those without resources to adapt; and (4) reduce the risk of geopolitical tensions over climate interventions due to uncertainties and mistakes.