Engineering climate debt

My colleague Shin Asayama and I have co-authored this new paper, titled “Engineering climate debt: temperature overshoot and peak-shaving as risky subprime mortgage lending”, which is now available open-access online in the journal Climate Policy.

In this paper, we look into the nature of so-called ‘overshoot and peak-shaving’ emissions scenarios, based on a combined use of temporary solar radiation management and large-scale carbon dioxide removal. Such scenarios are emerging as a possible strategy to meet the Paris 1.5-2C goal, against a background of the slow pace of emissions reductions. Using the logic of debt and the analogy of subprime mortgage lending, we argue that this scenario will place the world in a double debt (an ’emissions debt’ and a ‘temperature debt’), leading to the potential risk of escalating climate debt crisis. We also draw some lessons, through the analogy, from the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, 2007-2009.

You can read here a blog post about the thinking behind the paper.