Attractions of delay : Using deliberative engagement to investigate the political and strategic impacts of greenhouse gas removal technologies

McLaren, Duncan and Willis, Rebecca and Szerszynski, Bronislaw and Tyfield, David and Markusson, Nils (2023) Attractions of delay : Using deliberative engagement to investigate the political and strategic impacts of greenhouse gas removal technologies. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 6 (1). 578 - 599. ISSN 2514-8486

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Concerns have been raised that a focus on greenhouse gas removals (GGR) in climate models, scientific literature and other media might deter measures to mitigate climate change through reduction of emissions at source – the phenomenon of ‘mitigation deterrence’. Given the urgent need for climate action, any delay in emissions reduction would be worrying. We convened nine deliberative workshops to expose stakeholders to futures scenarios involving mitigation deterrence. The workshops examined ways in which deterrence might arise, and how it could be minimised. The deliberation exposed social and cultural interactions that might otherwise remain hidden. The paper describes narratives and ideas discussed in the workshops regarding political and economic mechanisms through which mitigation deterrence might occur, the plausibility of such pathways, and measures recommended to reduce the risk of such occurrence. Mitigation deterrence is interpreted as an important example of the ‘attraction of delay’ in a setting in which there are many incentives for procrastination. While our stakeholders accepted the historic persistence of delay in mitigation, some struggled to accept that similar processes, involving GGRs, may be happening now. The paper therefore also reviews the claims made by participants about mitigation deterrence, identifying discursive strategies that advocates of carbon removal might deploy to deflect concerns about mitigation deterrence. We conclude that the problem of mitigation deterrence is significant, needs to be recognised in climate policy, and its mechanisms better understood. Based on stakeholder proposals we suggest ways of governing GGR which would maximise both GGR and carbon reduction through other means.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
?? climate mitigationgreenhouse gas removalcarbon dioxide removalmitigation deterrencestakeholder deliberation ??
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25 Nov 2021 12:15
Last Modified:
17 Feb 2024 01:17