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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-5
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-5
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Jan 2019

Research article | 30 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Complementing CO2 emission reduction by Geoengineering might strongly enhance future welfare

Koen G. Helwegen1, Claudia E. Wieners2,3, Jason E. Frank1, and Henk A. Dijkstra2,3 Koen G. Helwegen et al.
  • 1Mathematical Institute, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 3Centre for Complex Systems Studies, Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Abstract. Solar Radiation Management (SRM) has been proposed as a means to reduce global warming in spite of high greenhouse gas concentrations and lower the chance of warming-induced tipping points. However, SRM may cause economic damages, and its feasibility is still uncertain. To investigate the trade-off between these gains and damages, we incorporate SRM into a stochastic-dynamic integrated assessment model and perform the first rigorous cost-benefit analysis of sulphate-based SRM under uncertainty, treating warming-induced climate tipping and SRM failure as stochastic elements. We find that SRM has the potential to greatly enhance future welfare and should therefore be taken seriously as a policy option. However, if only SRM and no CO2 abatement is used, global warming is not stabilised and will exceed 2 K. Therefore, even if successful, SRM cannot replace but only complement CO2 abatement. The optimal policy combines CO2 abatement and modest SRM and succeeds in keeping global warming below 2 K.

Koen G. Helwegen et al.
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Koen G. Helwegen et al.
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Short summary
We use the climate-economy model DICE to perform a cost-benefit analysis of sulphate geoengineering, i.e. producing a thin artificial sulphate haze in the higher atmosphere to reflect some sunlight and cool the earth. We find that geoengineering can increase future welfare by reducing global warming, and should be taken seriously as policy option, but it can only complement, not replace, carbon emission reduction. The best policy is to combine CO2 emission reduction with modest geoengineering.
We use the climate-economy model DICE to perform a cost-benefit analysis of sulphate...
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