HKS Affiliated Authors

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


Cover art for Carr Center Discussion PaperIn 2021 the Saami Council asked Harvard to suspend research related to stratospheric aerosol injections, a form of geoengineering. Their intervention raises far-reaching questions regarding the appropriateness of geoengineering as a response to climate change, but also regarding the status of indigenous voices in this debate. I make two main points. Firstly, it behooves us to engage indigenous voices as a way of addressing one type of moral corruption in climate change, namely that only voices from the present can engage on what to do about it. Absent actual representation of future generations, engaging with the ecological stance typically associated with indigenous groups (who display remarkable commonality in this regard) is the best we can do. Secondly, while critics rightly associate geoengineering with the mindset that caused climate change, it still seems wise to continue research into stratospheric aerosol injections. But advocacy in this domain has performative dimensions and itself might trigger reactions and counter-reactions. So, taking this stance entails follow-up obligations to ensure geoengineering is not used to defeat efforts at emission reductions.


Mathias Risse. 10/9/2023. “On the Role of Solar Geoengineering in Combatting Climate Change: Harvard University vs. Indigenous Voices”. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School.