The Politics and Governance of Negative Emissions Technologies: Between the Paris Agreement and the Anthropocene

Utrecht, Netherlands

15-16 June 2017

Some scientists propose intentional large-scale interventions in natural systems to remove and sequester carbon dioxide. Collectively, these "negative emissions technologies" (NETs) could increase the feasibility of ambitious climate targets, such as those of the recent Paris Agreement to keep global warming "to well below 2°C," and to endeavour to keep it within 1.5°C. Indeed, modelling repeatedly indicates that NETs at large scales are essential in any realistic scenario of meeting such internationally agreed-upon climate targets. It is unclear whether this would be technologically or economically possible, or whether it is merely a device to transform the impossible into the seemingly attainable. Furthermore, NETs at such scales would pose social and environmental risks. Deeper questions linger, such as whether this would amount to full scale realization of the Anthropocene, in which humans are a dominant force affecting natural systems. Unsurprisingly, NETs are controversial.


Despite the growing realization of NETs' necessity, their international politics and policies remain amorphous and emerging. Clearly, there will be some form of politics and governance of NETs. Simultaneously, there will be governance by NETs. That is, NETs may serve as a form of governance of other responses to climate change. These matters will be contested; how they are contested and by whom may be novel and surprising.


This two-day workshop will bring together 20 to 25 leading researchers in political science, law, economics, and related social sciences to present papers on the emerging politics and governance of NETs. We invite scholars to contribute to the following questions:

·     -    How can the unfolding politics of NETs be understood, theorized, and projected?

·     -    In what ways can NETs be effectively, responsibly, and legitimately developed and governed? How can NETs' social and environmental risks be assessed, managed, and regulated? To what extent is innovative governance necessary?

·     -    What are some expected impacts of NETs on the politics and policies of other responses to climate change? How can these impacts be channelled to facilitate effective, legitimate, and innovative climate policies?

·     -    How does global environmental politics - particularly regarding the Paris Agreement - affect possibilities for developing NETs? How will NETs influence global environmental politics?

Proposals on other topics related to the politics and governance of NETs are welcome.

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