Rich man’s solution? Climate engineering discourses and the marginalization of the Global South

Frank Biermann*, I.M. Möller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous recent studies project that ‘climate engineering’ technologies might need to play a major role in the future. Such technologies may carry major risks for developing countries that are often especially vulnerable to, and lack adaptive capacity to deal with, the impacts of such new technologies. In this situation, one would expect that developing countries—especially the least developed countries that are most vulnerable—should play a central role in the emerging discourse on climate engineering. And yet, as this article shows in detail, the discussion about whether and how to engage with these technologies is shaped by experts from just a small set of countries in the Global North. Knowledge production around climate engineering remains heavily dominated by the major research institutions in North America and Europe. Drawing on information from 70 climate engineering events between 2009 and 2017 along with extensive document analysis, the article maps a lack of involvement of developing countries and highlights the degree to which their concerns remain insufficiently represented in politically significant scientific assessment reports. The article concludes by sketching options that developing countries may have to influence the agenda on climate engineering, reflecting on earlier attempts to increase control over novel technologies and influence global agenda setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151–167
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate engineering
  • Climate policy
  • Geoengineering
  • Least developed countries


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