It is becoming increasingly likely that even drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will no longer be enough to halt climate change. © OHB

Is geoengineering the solution to climate change?


Climate change exists and humans are causing it – there has been scientific consensus on this for decades. Nevertheless, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are progressing very slowly. But the clock is ticking. The consequences of global warming are becoming more and more obvious. On the current path, climate change is heading towards a point where it is no longer enough to simply stop burning fossil fuels. But what else can be done?

Climate change is the result of accidental geoengineering

Climate change itself is the result of human modification of planet Earth – or more precisely its atmosphere. These changes are a by-product of the process of industrialisation and were not brought about intentionally. However, there are also ways of deliberately changing planet Earth through technical measures and thus counteracting the effects of climate change. These measures are usually summarised under the term "geoengineering" or, in some cases, "climate engineering".

Deliberate geoengineering can complement emission reduction measures

In practice, the range of ideas and concepts discussed so far is very wide, spanning from nature-based approaches such as afforestation to deploying a swarm of satellites in space to block part of the Sun's radiation.

While geoengineering cannot single-handedly solve the problem of climate change and should never be used lightly because of the potential side effects, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now believes that emissions reduction will no longer be sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Even if we achieve climate neutrality, it only means that we stabilise the current high level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

It is therefore increasingly likely that we will have to resort to geoengineering at some point, which means that we need to look into the necessary technologies now.