Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative

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A living guide to geoengineering terms

Mark Turnerby Mark Turner, C2G2 / 14 June 2018

Geoengineering terminology can be a minefield.

As discussed in an earlier post, choosing the right words for geoengineering, every term brings with it a host of values and assumptions, often political, some with significant ramifications for governance.

Different understandings of the same or similar terms can lead to situations where interlocutors unwittingly talk past each other, undermining good faith efforts to design smart policies. At the extremes, diverging uses of terminology can lead to breakdowns in communication.

A year and a half into C2G2’s existence, we are still struck by how often miscommunication can occur. As the discussion of geoengineering issues rises up the policy agenda, becoming aware of these pitfalls has become an essential part of our work.

That is why we have created our first Living Guide to Geoengineering Terminology. In it, we do not attempt to determine what words or phrases are correct, but rather to highlight some of the areas where we see miscommunication arising.

By alerting constituencies to these complexities, hopefully we can help lessen the possibility of accidental misunderstanding. At the same time, we appreciate that sometimes these ambiguities may be intentional. That is a harder issue to tackle.

We very much see this as a first iteration of a living guide to a fast-moving debate. C2G2 will most likely alter or add to these definitions over time. We hope it will be helpful to newcomers and experts alike, and welcome your thoughts and suggestions on future iterations.

Please find our living guide here: https://www.c2g2.net/terminology-guide/

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