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How Can Solar Geoengineering and Mitigation Be Combined under Climate Targets?

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science

Mohammad M. Khabbazan, Marius Stankoweit, Elnaz Roshan, Hauke Schmidt, Hermann Held

In: Earth System Dynamics 12 (2021), 4, S. 1529–1542


So far, scientific analyses have mainly focused on the pros and cons of solar geoengineering or solar radiation management (SRM) as a climate policy option in mere isolation. Here, we put SRM into the context of mitigation by a strictly temperature-target-based approach. As the main innovation, we present a scheme that extends the applicability regime of temperature targets from mitigation-only to SRM-mitigation analyses. We explicitly account for one major category of side effects of SRM while minimizing economic costs for complying with the 2 ∘C temperature target. To do so, we suggest regional precipitation guardrails that are compatible with the 2 ∘C target. Our analysis shows that the value system enshrined in the 2 ∘C target leads to an elimination of most of the SRM from the policy scenario if a transgression of environmental targets is confined to of the standard deviation of natural variability. Correspondingly, about half to nearly two-thirds of mitigation costs could be saved, depending on the relaxation of the precipitation criterion. In addition, assuming a climate sensitivity of 3 ∘C or more, in case of a delayed enough policy, a modest admixture of SRM to the policy portfolio might provide debatable trade-offs compared to a mitigation-only future. Also, in our analysis which abstains from a utilization of negative emissions technologies, for climate sensitivities higher than 4 ∘C, SRM will be an unavoidable policy tool to comply with the temperature targets. The economic numbers we present must be interpreted as upper bounds in the sense that cost-lowering effects by including negative emissions technologies are absent. However, with an additional climate policy option such as carbon dioxide removal present, the role of SRM would be even more limited. Hence, our results, pointing to a limited role of SRM in a situation of immediate implementation of a climate policy, are robust in that regard. This limitation would be enhanced if further side effects of SRM are taken into account in a target-based integrated assessment of SRM.