Thursday, October 6, 2011

BPC Report

On Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released its long-awaited report on climate engineering, titled "Geoengineering: A National Strategic Plan for Research on the Potential Effectiveness, Feasibility, and Consequences of Climate Remediation Technologies." As its subtitle indicates, the idea behind this report is to provide a blueprint for initiating a systematic federal research program on climate engineering technologies. The report recommends a multi-agency research and development effort centrally coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP--incidentally, headed by John Holdren), with budgetary and program support from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and expert opinion and advice from a new advisory commission. This research program should support both SRM and CDR approaches, and should be tightly linked to international research efforts. No funding target is specified.

This plan is balanced and sensible, and aligns with previous proposals for federal climate engineering research programs. However, the authors of this plan stake out new ground both in presenting their recommendations as centrist and founded on broad political consensus, and in intending their report to jump start the creation of a federal research program. The key question is how the BPC and those who contributed to the report will follow up to implement its recommendations. The plan urges that "OSTP and OMB should begin working immediately to put together a coordinated program for SRM and CDR research that should be proposed as part of the president's fiscal year 2013 budget" (p. 17). How will this be achieved? Who will lead the way?

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