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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Wyoming
  • Todd L Cherry
  • (828) 262-6081
Award Date:06/29/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 126,430
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 126,430
  • FY 2020=$126,430
Start Date:08/01/2020
End Date:03/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Implications of Solar Radiation Management for Strategic Behavior and Climate Governance
Federal Award ID Number:2033855
DUNS ID:069690956
Parent DUNS ID:069690956
Program:Decision, Risk & Mgmt Sci
Program Officer:
  • Robert O'Connor
  • (703) 292-7263

Awardee Location

Street:1000 E. University Avenue
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Wyoming
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

With recent scientific reports warning of serious global impacts if greenhouse gas emissions are not quickly curtailed, some nations or other entities may be inclined to pursue a technological climate management strategy that does not require international cooperation. Solar radiation management (SRM) is emerging as the leading candidate from among a variety of potential “geoengineering” technologies. SRM seeks to increase the amount of sunlight reflected back into space to offset the heat-trapping effects of GHG emissions. One approach, which involves widespread release of reflective particles in the stratosphere, is expected to be especially cheap and fast‐acting. This means that a single nation that is especially vulnerable to climate change may decide to deploy SRM, even if it is potentially detrimental to other nations. This research project is designed to investigate how the potential availability and implementation of geoengineering is likely to impact future climate action and impacts. The research team also explores the ways in which alternative international governance frameworks might promote strategies that lead to the greatest global benefit. The project advances existing theory and models of climate action by considering the potential evolution of decision making as climate change becomes more urgent and nations struggle to reach a cooperative solution. This theoretical advancement is reinforced by behavioral laboratory experiments as well as computer model simulations. By providing insight into the wider ramifications of geoengineering, The research is timely and socially relevant. Specifically, the researchers broaden the impact of the work via three main mechanisms: (i) Direct engagement of domestic and international climate policymakers, to improve mutual understanding of the implications of SRM; (ii) Translation and dissemination of our modeling and experimental tools and results for application to other problems in science and technology policy; (iii) Provision of socially relevant experiences for diverse students that develop their capacity to communicate with decision makers. Climate change is a typical public goods problem, requiring collective action to successfully co-manage. Global collective action on climate change is a challenge, however, as each potential actor has an incentive to “free‐ride” on the actions of others. This leads to insufficient overall action – the so‐called “tragedy of the commons.” This situation may be transformed, however, by the potential of solar radiation management (SRM) as a non‐cooperative climate change management strategy. In particular, the injection of reflective particles into the stratosphere may be a sufficiently cheap and easy means of cooling the earth to be feasibly implemented by a single nation. However, SRM is an imperfect solution as it is short‐lived and has its own risks and governance challenges. In this project, we seek to understand the potential impacts of SRM on future climate management strategy, the prospects of cooperative action, and the role of international governance. Key research questions include: Under what conditions will SRM encourage free‐riding, free‐driving, or cooperation? Will nations reserve SRM as a last resort, or implement it before it is necessary? What role can SRM play in a climate management portfolio that includes mitigation and adaptation? How will heterogeneity among nations in their preference for SRM impact the potential for cooperation? How can international institutions rein in any free‐driver impetus created by SRM while incentivizing cooperation? This project addresses these and other research questions by connecting theory, model simulation, and experiment in pursuit of three specific aims: 1. Develop and analyze a game theoretic model of the dynamics of international climate cooperation when some nations have the ability to implement SRM. 2. Design and implement experimental games that represent the key features of SRM to test the theoretic model against actual behavior and to inform development of an agent‐based simulation. 3. Simulate and field test alternative frameworks for international governance and institutional design that promote climate strategies with the greatest social benefit. While our project is motivated by the prospect of SRM as a non‐cooperative, short‐term solution to climate change, insights from our project are potentially applicable to any situation in which a risky technology is being presented as a quick fix for problems traditionally addressed through collective action. Finally, the project team addresses opportunities for transferring the theory, modelling, and experimental rameworks to other settings. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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