Mapping the landscape of climate engineering

In the absence of a governance framework for climate engineering technologies such as solar radiation management (SRM), the practices of scientific research and intellectual property acquisition can de facto shape the development of the field. It is therefore important to make visible emerging patterns of research and patenting, which we suggest can effectively be done using bibliometric methods. We explore the challenges in defining the boundary of climate engineering, and set out the research strategy taken in this study. A dataset of 825 scientific publications on climate engineering between 1971 and 2013 was identified, including 193 on SRM; these are analysed in terms of trends, institutions, authors and funders. For our patent dataset, we identified 143 first filings directly or indirectly related to climate engineering technologies—of which 28 were related to SRM technologies—linked to 910 family members. We analyse the main patterns discerned in patent trends, applicants and inventors. We compare our own findings with those of an earlier bibliometric study of climate engineering, and show how our method is consistent with the need for transparency and repeatability, and the need to adjust the method as the field develops. We conclude that bibliometric monitoring techniques can play an important role in the anticipatory governance of climate engineering.

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Author(s): P. Oldham, B. Szerszynski, J. Stilgoe, C. Brown, B. Eacott, A. Yuille
Organization(s): Lancaster University and University College London
Source: Philosophical Transactions A
Year: 2014

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