Geoengineering: A humanitarian concern

Pablo Suarez*, Maarten K. van Aalst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The humanitarian sector is active at the global frontline of climate impacts, and has a track record in influencing the climate change policy agenda. Geoengineering is a humanitarian concern: the potential for deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth's climate system has major implications in terms of impacts on the most vulnerable. Yet, so far the humanitarian community has largely been absent from geoengineering deliberations. Geoengineering may be perceived as too theoretical, too complex, and not imminent enough to merit attention. However, early engagement by the sector is imperative to ensure that humanitarian considerations are integrated into policy decisions. Those who can suffer the worst outcomes need to be involved; especially given the plausibility of “predatory geoengineering” where recklessly self-concerned actions may result in harmful consequences to others. This paper explores the humanitarian dimensions of geoengineering, specifically relating to solar radiation management (SRM). Drawing from the engagement of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in SRM discussions, we discuss how to improve linkages between science, policy and humanitarian practice. We further propose the creation of a geoengineering risk management framework to ensure that the interests of the most vulnerable are considered and addressed - including the voices of all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • externalities
  • Humanitarian
  • predatory geoengineering
  • Solar Radiation Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Geoengineering: A humanitarian concern'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this