Deliberating enhanced weathering: public frames, iconic ecosystems, and the governance of carbon removal at scale

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Jun 29, 2022, 11:01:16 PMJun 29
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Deliberating enhanced weathering: public frames, iconic ecosystems, and the governance of carbon removal at scale


Emily Cox, Elspeth Spence and Nicholas Pidgeon

Abstract 
Meeting goals for ‘net zero’ emissions may require removal of previously-emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One proposal, Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW), aims to speed up weathering processes of rocks by crushing them finely and spreading them on agricultural land. Public perceptions of ERW and its wider social and environmental implications will be a critical factor determining its potential; we use six two-day deliberative workshops in England, Wales and Illinois to understand public views. Consideration of ERW deployment in tropical countries led participants to frame it from a social justice perspective, which had been much less prevalent when considering Western agricultural contexts, and generated assumptions of increased scale, which heightened concerns about detrimental social and environmental impacts. Risk perceptions relating to ‘messing with nature’ became amplified when participants considered ERW in relation to ‘iconic’ environments such as the oceans and rainforest. 

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