Climate Engineering Research: Responsible Innovation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Management


This project will support a part time, named social scientist with high expertise in stakeholder and public engagement for 4 months a) to undertake a programme of stakeholder mapping and engagement around the RCUK funded SPICE project and the wider context of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) within which it sits; b) to undertake a brief but critical review of the wider risk uncertainties, ethical, legal. governance and social issues associated with the project and SRM more generally, and c) to integrate the stakeholder engagement work and literature review into a broader package of information to be submitted to an independent stage gate review panel convened by RCUK which will recommend whether the SPICE testbed should go ahead i.e. a mechanism through which the results from the engagement activities can inform subsequent project activities by SPICE.

This research will therefore be an important input to discussions regarding the outstanding (i.e. 'pass pending') criteria highlighted at the June 2011 SPICE Testbed Stage Gate panel (Macnaghten and Owen, Nature 2011), and which will be re-evaluated again when this panel is reconvened. Secondly, it will provide important understanding more generally of the conditions under which research in the field of SRM could progress in a way that is safe, open and responsible.

The named researcher (Jack Stilgoe) is an expert in upstream engagement around emerging technologies and has recently completed an ESRC / EPSRC grant (led by Prof Owen) to develop an outline Responsible Innovation (RI) Framework. He will use this framework to support and inform the study. The study will be both an important input into the governance of the SPICE project, and a valuable social science research site within which to deepen the existing ESRC/EPSRC Framework for Responsible Innovation project.

Planned Impact

By undertaking a stakeholder mapping and engagement exercise concerning the SPICE project, and in particular the proposed testbed within this project, our project will have an immediate impact in terms of informing the decision-making process by RCUK i.e. the conditions under which the SPICE testbed could proceed. It will provide an essential input to this decision making, as recommended by the June 2011 stage gate review panel, which specifically asked for a stakeholder engagement exercise before a decision for the test bed to proceed is taken.

This will be achieved by integrating the stakeholder mapping work and literature review into a broader package of information to be submitted by the SPICE team to a stage gate review panel which will recommend whether the proposed testbed should go ahead.

A broader impact of the work is to provide empirical understanding of the views of a wide range of stakeholders in terms of what conditions research in the field of Solar Radiation Management could proceed, and feed this back into decisions about the trajectory of this area of science and technology by RCUK, and emerging science and research policy more generally at a Governmental level (e.g. DECC, BIS). This area of science and technology could have very significant impacts on society and the study will collate and synthesise the views of stakeholders in industry, science, civil society groups and beyond who have interest in geoengineering at a critical phase when research funding is now being made available.


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Oldham P (2014) Mapping the landscape of climate engineering. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Szerszynski B (2013) Why Solar Radiation Management Geoengineering and Democracy Won't Mix in Environment and Planning A

Description The project undertook deliberative stakeholder engagement around one of the first major UK research projects in the emerging area of geoengineering (the deliberate intervention in the planetary climate). The project, Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE), proposed an outdoor experiment that attracted substantial public scrutiny despite a strong consensus that the experiment posed no direct environmental risk. The programme of stakeholder engagement sought a deeper understanding of the views of stakeholders.
Exploitation Route The work was important as an input into policy options regarding geoengineering by RUCK and the UK government
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The research supported stakeholder dialogue which supported decision making within the SPICE geoengineering project and the development of the framework for responsible innovation which was subsequently published as an ESPRC policy The research under this grant contributed to an Impact Case Study submitted to REF 2014 (UoA 19) which was evaluated as being 'outstanding' (4*)
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description The Framework developed under this grant directly contributed to the development and publication of the EPSRC policy on responsible innovation in the Autumn of 2013
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact EPSRC Policy; EU Policy (EC: Horizon 2020 where RI is now a cross cutting issue); national policy in other European Countries (e.g. Research Council of Norway)