A Solar Geoengineering Research Program: Goals and Approach
Solar geoengineering (SG) research will almost certainly evolve along several tracks. The kind of individual-investigator research that has been the foundation of most of the available information to date will continue. Increased interest in SG from philanthropies and individuals may lead to an increase in opportunities for building coordinated research programs and tackling diverse questions related to SG. The Harvard Solar Geoengineering Research Program, the Marine Cloud Brightening Project at the University of Washington, and the Marine Cloud Brightening Project for the Great Barrier Reef based in Australia are examples of existing programs that, while still modest in scale, have grown to include several researchers representing a range of disciplines. As national or international programs emerge, it will be important to recognize, build upon, and coordinate across efforts at every scale. Even in cases where lines of research are technically non-overlapping, participation in coordinated efforts can play a valuable role in building trust and transparency.
Design of an effective, coordinated SG research program, however, raises many questions that require careful consideration—for instance, should some kinds of research be funded through governmental sources and other research funded through nongovernmental entities? Should the roles and responsibilities for research funding change as the scale of a research program passes particular thresholds of size and scope? Are there specific kinds of research that should be executed as coordinated, multi-investigator, multi-funder projects? How should the priorities for coordination evolve in response to political, social, economic, or climate dynamics?
We approach the general topic of research design and coordination from the starting point of efforts based in the United States. This is a choice based on practical considerations. Operationally, research agencies of the U.S. federal government already have extensive experience supporting global change research and coordinating that research across agencies. Many, though certainly not all, features of SG research will
fit into the framework for existing global change research. The committee also considered the role of philanthropies in supporting national or international SG research, which introduces both advantages and disadvantages.
A central feature of a national SG research program and of U.S. input into international or other programs is that the goal of the program should be clearly and unequivocally to understand the prospects and limitations of SG options and not to drive toward eventual deployment. As discussed in more detail in Chapter 6, a national research program should be designed to explore the full range of issues relevant to possible future deployment. This should include not only issues related to technical feasibility and efficacy but also issues related to indirect effects, social implications, human perceptions, and judgments about equity. If these technologies are ever seriously considered for deployment, the perceived legitimacy of the research program will be as important as the specific findings. Thus, a key challenge is to develop and coordinate a research program that is informing decisions without committing to further development of that technology or creating research communities that are invested in its ultimate deployment. The next chapter identifies specific governance mechanisms to foster norms among researchers.
4.2 GOALS AND ATTRIBUTES OF A SOLAR GEOENGINEERING RESEARCH PROGRAM
The type of ongoing research and research governance framework that the committee envisions is illustrated in Figure 4.1. This framework would enable research governance and research activities to evolve hand-in-hand, with ongoing mechanisms for stakeholder engagement and input into both components. This engagement, combined with periodic programmatic assessments and revisions, could allow a research program to be responsive to new findings and developments that arise as the program and the knowledge base evolves.
Business-as-usual pathways for establishing a research program may not suffice given the many complex features of SG that are discussed in earlier chapters (e.g., that the issue is value-laden, involves deep uncertainties, and is highly dependent on social and political context). Understanding of how to design a robust program that meets all the principles and goals recommended herein is in a nascent state; thus, a research program needs to be sufficiently flexible to allow for improvements and adjustments as our understanding grows. The committee offers suggestions for the rough contours of a research program but, at the same time, suggests that expanding engagement
with stakeholders around the world will be needed to help fill gaps in understanding and perspective and will be useful for the initial program design.
The SG research and research governance framework needs to be stepwise and iterative in nature. Reflexivity, learning, and adaptiveness are essential in an interlinked system, in which evolution in any one domain will have implications for future activity both within that domain and in other parts of the system (e.g., new knowledge about potential impacts may influence understanding of deployment options and governance arrangements). The possibility of “exit ramps” together with periodic assessment and program revision (as illustrated in Figure 4.1) would build in opportunities to make adjustments as needed.
This possibility of exit ramps helps address the general problem of research funding for a specific project or a larger program becoming locked into place and renewed year after year even in the absence of meaningful progress. This problem occurs because expectations become set, among both the funded researchers and the funding agency, that can be difficult to overcome. In the context of SG research this dynamic can be particularly troubling. The goal of the research is not, fundamentally, to be a continuing investigation into some areas of science but rather to answer important questions about the feasibility, risks, and acceptability of different SG approaches. Thus, support should focus only on research that can provide information valuable (in the short term and mid-term) to those goals. Locking in of nonrelevant research in this
context could waste resources and might lead to the continuation of research on approaches that have been rejected on social or political grounds.
No perfect solution exists, but some approaches can make it easier to terminate projects that are no longer worthwhile. One approach is to include fixed terms to the projects with pre-set milestones that must be met to justify continuation. A second approach is to mitigate the reliance interests of the researchers by providing a warning period—for example, a warning that funding will end in 1 year unless some objectives are reached. A third option might be to demand discontinuance of some existing projects every year, forcing the funding authority to make choices among their existing inventory. Any of these methods, of course, should be announced in advance to the funding applicants, and each would require disciplined review, preferably by a body that is overseeing more than one kind of research and so is positioned to make choices about more and less promising approaches.
A socially robust research and research governance environment should be integrative, as illustrated by the braided circle in Figure 4.1. The program will need to integrate insights across numerous disciplines, as diverse as climate dynamics, atmospheric physics and chemistry, terrestrial and oceanic ecology, agronomy, medicine, political science, sociology, law, philosophy, and engineering. This will be necessary for holistic assessments and to design possible solutions, with collaborators working toward a shared set of objectives along a common timeline. Research activities will also need to stretch across a lengthy “chain of inquiry.” Pursuing ad hoc, isolated studies as is presently the case is not an effective pathway for rapidly advancing understanding.
Likewise, public engagement and transparency are mainstays of socially robust research and will be critical for the success of a research program. Diversity is needed in terms of the sites of production of knowledge and the expertise assembled to engage in research. A program will be most effective if it is ambitiously inclusive and systematically incorporates a diversity of stakeholder and disciplinary perspectives, especially those that are typically marginalized. The committee thus envisions public engagement being woven into both SG research and research governance, as shown in Figure 4.1.
It will be important to establish and utilize mechanisms for stakeholder input and decision-maker needs, beginning with the stage of program design. One way of ensuring that the program as a whole is responsive to decision-maker needs is to establish mechanisms to assess those needs and incentivize program leaders to take those needs into account. Relevant mechanisms could include convening a stakeholder advisory committee, conducting research on needs, or requiring co-production as a research approach for some portion of projects. Similarly, a program will need to be nimble and be able to adjust priorities as they emerge from both research findings and decision-maker needs.
Interactions and learning across various operational elements are critical for a successful SG research program. Specifically, coordination is essential for integrating perspectives from research, from those involved in supporting and guiding this research enterprise, and from those exploring governance strategies for any potential future deployment. An SG research program could employ numerous mechanisms to effec-
tively coordinate research efforts among multidisciplinary investigators. While most research will likely advance through individual and group projects, there are numerous coordinating mechanisms—such as community-driven science plans, town hall meetings at scientific organization conferences, scientific steering groups, interagency program manager groups, joint requests for proposals, and annual principal investigator meetings—that could be employed to ensure that these individual efforts are coordinated and organized to communicate as research is planned and executed and that highest priority efforts are supported.
Finally, the SG research program should award funding in a manner that encourages creative thinking while avoiding commitments to further development of a specific technology or to the creation of research communities that are invested in its ultimate deployment. Awarding funding through a competitive process ensures that diverse researchers are able to apply for funding, and competition among research teams also ensures that the best ideas are generated and tested.
Funding for SG research from for-profit organizations raises special concerns. If any such organizations have taken successful research steps toward deployable SG technologies, they will likely have a financial interest in seeing actual deployment advance. For an issue as controversial and complex as this one, that kind of thumb-on-the-scale should be avoided if possible. One might try to discourage or even prohibit for-profit research (as has been done for other issues in some circumstances, such as with regard to nuclear weapons). But for SG research, some work might be best carried out by for-profit firms. For example, companies that build aircraft may be better placed than government or university researchers to assess the possibilities of high-altitude transport aircraft. Similarly, firms that build spraying nozzles may be better able to find improvements to them. Of course, even in the cases in which for-profit entities are best suited for carrying out the research, government agencies may still be the primary source of funding.
Some small-scale research on the technology needed for deployment is appropriate only to the extent that it is necessary either to assess basic feasibility or to support other key research needs (e.g., for small-scale experiments, or to understand boundaries of feasibility such as achievable altitudes for stratospheric aerosol injection [SAI]). Research aimed solely at developing the technology needed for deployment should be discouraged (whether funded by governments, foundations, or private firms) until decisions on deployment have been made. We recognize that it may be difficult in some cases to draw the line between feasibility-oriented research and deployment-related research. The best protection is likely to be a robust decision-making process for deployment that can minimize any inappropriate influence stemming from potential profits.
4.3 CAPACITY NEEDED TO ADVANCE SOLAR GEOENGINEERING RESEARCH AND RESEARCH GOVERNANCE
SG requires new knowledge in understanding both the physical phenomena relating to SG interventions and the potential ecological, economic, social, political, and human implications of such interventions. But these implications necessarily will vary across space and time and are context-dependent. Therefore, research capacity to understand the nature of these impacts in any specific location has to be cognizant of local context and draw upon local knowledge. This will require multiple kinds of expertise such as modeling and experimental natural science (e.g., atmospheric science and ecological sciences), social science, and the ability to engage in transdisciplinary research that brings to bear multiple disciplines on identifying the issues of local relevance and then engaging in the production of knowledge to address these issues. Furthermore, given the complexity of these endeavors, even the understanding of how to effectively govern and guide such research might be inadequate and therefore itself a subject of research. Lastly, there is a range of questions pertaining to the governance of SG interventions—for example, under what conditions and under whose oversight might a specific SG intervention be initiated and terminated, and how do these governance systems fit and interact with broader climate governance systems? Exploration of various options and their appropriateness in both a transnational and local context requires yet other forms of research capacity that draw on the humanities and social sciences as well as practical knowledge of the state and dynamics of the global climate policy domain.
The capacity to suitably govern SG research will require an understanding of the nature, needs, and concerns relating to this research such that it can be enabled and supported in a manner consonant with societal perspectives and objectives, while being mindful of, and minimizing, the risks that may result from such research. This will require close engagement with the research community as well as relevant stakeholders, while also being cognizant of approaches in other issue domains as well national contexts. The governance of deployment, on the other hand, probably would require some form of international engagement, given the transboundary nature of interven-
tions and capabilities to jointly determine approaches and pathways that reflect both national priorities and the international landscape.
The transdisciplinary nature of SG, its linkage to other issue domains, and the wide breadth of stakeholders whose perspectives are of relevance necessitate a high level of coordination capacity to draw together different forms of expertise and knowledge to inform, shape, guide, and engage in research. Similarly, some aspects of the research governance will require coordination among relevant experts, stakeholders, and policy makers within and beyond national boundaries. Such capacity may particularly be in short supply in developing countries where policy makers and other actors are overstretched.
It is likely that much natural and social science research capacity will reside in academic and other research institutions (including government research laboratories). In some cases, international research actors (e.g., International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and The World Academy of Sciences) may play a key role in undertaking or facilitating research, especially in cases in which individual countries do not have appropriate research institutions. A well-informed and active civil society can play a key role in bringing to bear a variety of perspectives into these efforts as well as helping ensure that marginalized groups also have a voice in the process. Government agencies will also necessarily play a key role in the funding and oversight of SG research efforts, but given the unusually complex nature of this issue and the need for transdisciplinary, sociotechnical,“Mode 2” science, these agencies may also need to develop the capacity to support and govern this research enterprise in an appropriate fashion.
On the other end, engaging with SG governance will require an altogether different kind of capacity that requires drawing upon and marshaling the full breadth of scientific and societal resources. Since interactions between different communities—such as between natural and social scientists, between researchers and policy makers, and between researchers and citizens—will play an important role in an effective SG enterprise, boundary organizations that can mediate communication across these interfaces are likely to play an important role in facilitating these interactions (McNie, 2007). Examples of such boundary organizations include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), professional societies, and civil society groups. Networks may be seen as another form of capacity, which is characterized by flow of knowledge across community boundaries, thereby enabling transdisciplinarity. Some forms of networks may self-organize, as in the case of collaborating researchers, but in many cases the development and sustainment of networks may require efforts targeted specifically toward this end (Dilling et al., 2015).
Public funding can play a central role in developing local capacity that might be needed in order to support the kinds of activities (e.g., natural and social science research, boundary work, and knowledge network development) that might be required for any particular form of SG research enterprise—and indeed even a systematic exploration of the kind of research enterprise that might be societally desirable. While private funding such as from philanthropic organizations has been and can continue to play a role in supporting such work, it is not accountable to the public in the same way as a public agency and therefore cannot be seen as a substitute for public support. On the other hand, some coordination between public and private efforts may be useful in enhancing the efficiency of capacity development.
International support may be particularly useful for the development of local capacity in countries that have limited public funding to support SG research. This issue will require thoughtful engagement, though, both in terms of understanding what kinds of capacities are particularly needed in that context and how to develop such capac-
ity, especially given limited success in capacity development efforts more generally. Support for international collaboration and coordination may also be particularly helpful.
4.4 FEDERAL AGENCY PARTICIPATION AND COORDINATION
SG research and research governance efforts to date have been ad hoc and dispersed (as discussed in Chapter 2). Most research has been carried out by individual investigators and teams under non-targeted sources of funding. Even the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (Kravitz et al., 2011), an internationally coordinated project designated by a working group of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), is conducted on a voluntary basis by individual modeling centers, with no dedicated sources of funding. As with other Earth-science interdisciplinary programs, there would be significant value added by coordinating across modeling, observations, process studies, social and economic studies, scenario designs, and beyond—to
help ensure that the research conducted informs (and is informed by) other research as efficiently as possible.
The United States does not currently have a coordinated federal SG research program, nor a coordinated approach for creating such a federal program. Several federal science agencies support global change research activities that advance observational science; climate analysis; detection and attribution research; and the development, evaluation, and application of Earth system models (see Table 4.1). Each agency has different technological and scientific strengths and different missions and cultures, but they could all provide valuable contributions to an SG research program. In fact, a significant fraction of the existing federal climate research enterprise could help advance understanding of SG approaches and impacts. This includes, for instance, ongoing federal research on atmospheric circulation and aerosol/cloud interactions, which is directly relevant for understanding the potential effectiveness and impacts of both SAI and MCB.
TABLE 4.1 Budget Crosscut for Funds Self-Identified by Agencies as Their Contributions to USGCRP Research Activities. Funding amounts are shown in millions of dollars.
|Agency||FY2018 Enacted ($M)||FY2019 Enacted ($M)||FY2020 President’s Budget ($M)|
|Department of Agriculture (USDA)||103||101||96|
|Department of Commerce (DOC)||320||293||194|
|Department of Energy (DOE)||239||259||117|
|Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)||10||11||10|
|Department of the Interior (DOI)||25||25||13|
|Department of Transportation (DOT)||0||0||0|
|Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)||18||19||0|
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)||1,499||1,484||1,286|
|National Science Foundation (NSF)||254||237||219|
|Smithsonian Institute (SI)||8||8||8|
SOURCE: USGCRP (2020).
The U.S. federal agencies with climate-related research programs1 most relevant to SG research include the following:
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), with a focus on the troposphere and Earth system modeling and a long history of ground-based atmospheric radiative measurements. DOE is also home to most of the R&D related to energy technologies and carbon capture and storage.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with weather, climate, atmospheric composition and chemistry, and oceanic observation and prediction responsibilities for the nation.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with stratospheric platforms, Earth system observations from satellite platforms and airborne facilities, and modeling of climate and atmospheric composition.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF), in fostering investigator-driven research across many disciplines, including human-dimensions aspects, as well as focused efforts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with expertise in mission programs.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Geological Survey, for impacts research related to agriculture, forests, freshwater systems, and other ecosystems.
- The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, for research related to impacts on human health.
Agencies such as DOE, NOAA, and NASA have considerable experience with mission-driven atmospheric monitoring (including aerosol research) and broader integrated assessment modeling. And several individuals within the national laboratories (e.g., DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratories) are carrying out SG-focused research. NCAR is home to a “Community Climate Intervention Strategies” project2 that coordinates webinars and workshops and has numerous scientists actively publishing SG-related research. None of the federal agencies, however, has resources or personnel dedicated specifically to working on SG issues, are positioned to launch a mission--
1 The Office of Naval Research has conducted research on the marine atmosphere in the past, including the 1994 Monterey Area Ship Tracks Experiment. Whether capacity will be available for future research is an open question.
driven research program, or have a mandate to respond to policy makers or provide input to SG-related international assessments. Moreover, because there is no coordinated federal strategy for SG research activities (or even guidance defining what “SG research activities” encompass), it is challenging to identify and track federal funding related to this topic.
The small percentage of climate/global change funding focused on human dimensions research has been identified as a long-standing concern in numerous National Academies reports (e.g., NRC, 2004, 2009, 2012). Some agencies have made modest investments in human dimensions research; for example, NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economics division supports some fundamental research; NOAA, EPA, and DOE support some human dimensions research related to their decision-making needs. However, this is a tiny fraction of the federal investment in physical and natural science research relevant to climate change. Furthermore, federal agencies do not have a clear home for program-directed human dimensions research, resulting in a lack of relevant capacity, resources, and leadership within research coordination efforts. The limited investment in human dimensions research makes it challenging to address some of the questions of greatest relevance for SG research, in which public perception and social attitudes are likely to play an important role in future decisions.
An effective, transdisciplinary research program will require coordination across multiple agencies, national laboratories and cooperative institutes, and academic institutions. While the focus of this study is on a U.S. (national) research program, strong international engagement and open international collaboration will promote the strongest scientific and global policy outcomes.
The importance of cross-agency coordination was emphasized in a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report about design of a federal geoengineering research program (GAO, 2010). This report noted that some key practices for enhancing collaboration across agencies include establishing a commonly accepted operational definition for relevant activities; emphasizing the importance of leveraging existing resources to support common outcomes and address identified needs; developing mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results; comprehensively assessing the costs, benefits, and risks of each technological option; and identifying potential overlap among proposed and existing programs. The report suggests that without coordinated efforts to identify relevant research and share information across agencies,
policy makers and agency officials may lack key information needed to inform their decisions on SG research.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established in 1990 under the U.S. Global Change Research Act to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies to “assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change” (P.L. 101-606). Today the program encompasses 13 agencies (those listed in Table 4.1 plus the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development). USGCRP is under the purview of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). As such, it is the principal mechanism within the Executive Branch to coordinate global change research across the diverse entities that make up the federal research and development enterprise.
USGCRP is the most logical entity for orchestrating coordination of SG research at the federal level, as part of its larger mandate to manage climate change-related research more broadly. USGCRP has for more than three decades helped coordinate climate research across federal agencies. Coordination mechanisms used by USGCRP include developing strategic plans, organizing monthly meetings of agency representatives, and establishing interagency working groups that focus on specific program priorities. A recent National Academies’ review of USGCRP’s accomplishments (NASEM, 2017) noted that the Adaptation Working Group and the Climate Change and Human Health Working Group made important contributions to the third National Climate Assessment, and the Carbon Cycle Working Group has facilitated significant progress across multiple agencies.
Despite its successes, the ability of USGCRP to coordinate across participating agencies has at times been hindered by the program’s inability to directly control relevant agency budgets or to shift funding to emerging research areas, by the lack of strong leadership, and by insufficient support for coordinating mechanisms (NASEM, 2016; NRC, 2004). Successful management of the national SG research program recommended herein will require a concerted effort by USGCRP, with strong support from NSTC and OSTP, to address these limitations.
Another limitation that must be addressed is that the scope of research currently supported by USGCRP agencies does not match the full breadth of research needs identified in this report. As discussed above, a particular concern is the relatively small investment in human dimensions research, which can be attributed in part to the lack of a strong agency home for such research and the inability of USGCRP to influence
agency investments to address these gaps. On the physical science side, USGCRP does not have a strong history of supporting some issues that are critical to SG, such as stratospheric research.
A second report on climate engineering from GAO (2011) addressed the importance of international collaboration. The report highlighted the value of U.S. efforts to sponsor (or at least encourage) joint research with other nations (including developing/ emerging industrial nations); to facilitate rigorous and transparent evaluation of new technologies developed by others; to foster cooperation and norms for conducting research; and to study how deployment of SG technologies could impinge on geopolitical equity, human rights, and justice. GAO (2011) also suggested research on how to define climate emergencies and achieve international agreement on response strategies as well as exploration of issues concerning military engagement in climate engineering research.
USGCRP has a long history of facilitating international research coordination (as described on its website3) and this experience could be leveraged for a national SG research program. Much of USGCRP’s current international coordination work focuses on WCRP and Future Earth. For example, the WCRP Climate and Ocean—Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) project seeks to understand the dynamics, the interaction, and the predictability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. To enhance integration of relevant research priorities at international, national, and individual agency levels, the U.S. CLIVAR office is co-located with the USGCRP National Coordination Office.
The 2011 GAO report also discussed how effective engagement can foster shared learning across national leadership, the general public, and the research community; help ensure transparency; build shared norms; help frame research agendas to reflect the concerns and needs of the public and decision makers; and bring an informed, democratic process to decisions that broadly affect society. USGCRP and its participating agencies have experience with various types of stakeholder engagement processes that could provide a foundation for the efforts needed in an SG research
3 See https://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/coordinate-internationally.
program. Examples include the engagement activities undertaken by USGCRP as part of the National Climate Assessments (in particular the development of NCAnet,4 an ongoing effort to engage producers and users of assessment information across the United States), as well as centers established by individual agencies to support climate-related decision making (e.g., the NOAA Regional Integrated Science and Assessment centers, USDA Climate Hubs, and the U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers). While this experience provides a valuable foundation, the SG research program described herein will require additional mechanisms for engagement with civil society and other stakeholders, with particular attention given to climate-vulnerable communities and underrepresented groups including from indigenous populations and the Global South. While USGCRP itself is not likely well suited to lead international engagement processes, it can help assure that the United States actively supports and participates in efforts led by appropriate international organizations.
4.5 ROLES FOR PHILANTHROPIC SUPPORT
At present, more than two-thirds of SG funding in the United States is coming from private sources, including from foundations and individuals (see Table 4.2). This funding has supported some research efforts, as well as efforts to explore governance of research. Support from philanthropic sources may be particularly valuable for advancing research and research governance activities that pose a difficult fit for traditional government funding. For instance, efforts related to international capacity building do not align easily with the mission or scope of existing federal agency programs and thus could be bolstered by alternative means of support.
Yet, there are many concerns about private philanthropy funding SG research. Private-sector funding lacks the level of accountability to the broader public typically associated with governmental support. These concerns are especially acute when it comes to private support for outdoor experiments. Other concerns relate to the ethical and
TABLE 4.2 Approximate Funding Amounts for SG Research and Governance-related Efforts, by Location and Funding Type between 2008 and 2018
|Location||Government Funding||Private Funding||Mixed Funding|
SOURCE: Necheles et al. (2018).
other implications of potentially having a small number of wealthy individuals and philanthropies setting research and policy agendas, and shaping the overall path forward, for the SG enterprise.
It is possible that research and research governance activities supported by philanthropy could be subject to the type of governance framework outlined in Chapter 5 (e.g., by mechanisms such as public registries of research, review and assessment efforts, and advisory committee oversight), although many questions remain regarding the degree to which these mechanisms would apply and be effective. The “code of conduct” recommendations in particular could provide a valuable basis for guiding the efforts of both governmental- and nongovernmental-funded research alike; in fact, prior to the creation of a coordinated government program, it may be private philanthropies that first socialize and require adherence to a code of conduct from those researchers that they support. Even in the absence of any legal or regulatory constraints, societal pressure may help motivate privately funded activities to adhere to common standards for transparency, public engagement, safety precautions, etc.—especially if there is public backlash in the face of activities that fail to adhere to such standards.
As a general approach, philanthropic support for SG research and research governance (and related activities such as capacity building and engagement) should complement rather than replace core U.S. federal support for these activities. This complementary support may be particularly useful for helping address priority areas identified by other nations and nongovernmental organizations in the Global South with independently developing research programs and interests as well as for rapidly advancing the near-term work needed to help inform research program design efforts (given that philanthropies can often make grants much more quickly than federal agencies).
Providing budget estimates for engagement and capacity building efforts is challenging, in part because such activities could be scaled to almost any size and ambition that one seeks—ranging from a few thousand dollars for modest individual events to tens of millions for ongoing globally comprehensive processes. Consistent with our earlier calls for assuring a primary focus on climate change mitigation, we suggest that philanthropic support for SG should remain a small fraction of the support provided for mitigation efforts. As a point of reference, the latter totaled $1.6–1.8 billion in 2019 (Climate Works Foundation, 2020).
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