Philosophy PhD Studentship in Sheffield: ‘Climate Ethics and Enhanced Weathering’

The Department of Philosophy here in Sheffield invites applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship in Philosophy, starting in September/October 2019, as part of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield. The studentship includes UK/EU tuition fees and a maintenance stipend at the standard RCUK rate for up to four years.
The closing date for applications is 17:00 (GMT) on 12 June, 2019.

About the Project:
Primary Supervisor: Megan Blomfield

Models of future scenarios for meeting international climate targets are increasingly assuming a large-scale rollout of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) methods, to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Proposed CDR methods encompass a variety of techniques, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, ocean fertilisation, and enhanced rock weathering (a technique whereby large tracts of land would be treated with finely ground rocks, to accelerate the drawdown of carbon through geological processes).
Despite its prevalence in climate modelling, the idea of attempting to engineer the climate through large-scale deployment of CDR is controversial. On the one hand, there are hopes that this could provide a crucial way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. On the other, there are fears that some CDR methods could have harmful side-effects, spur conflicts over land and natural resources, or be a means by which humans would further dominate the natural world. Given that CDR methods have not been proven viable at scale, some worry that even merely researching these techniques could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating the false impression of a safety net.

This project will examine the ethical issues surrounding climate policy choice, with relevance for research into, and deployment of, CDR methods including enhanced rock weathering. Questions that this project might consider include the relative virtues of different measures to address climate change; intergenerational justice and the ethics of sustainability; the ethics of risk and risk imposition; whether there is a duty to develop CDR methods and if so, who this duty falls to and how it interacts with the duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the just distribution of the benefits and burdens of CDR; supply chain ethics; ethical issues surrounding the marketization of carbon and carbon offsets; just international governance for CDR research and decision-making; research ethics; and the ethics of new technologies.