Philosophy PhD Studentship at University of Sheffield: ‘Climate Ethics and Enhanced Weathering’

We invite 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.

Eligibility

  • This studentship is open to UK/EU students. Overseas students registered in the UK may also be eligible, conditional on approval from the funding body, but would be responsible for any additional fees / living costs associated with being an international student. To check your fee status, please see: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/fees/status
  • The studentship is designed for full time study, but part time study may be possible conditional on the approval of the funding body.

How to apply

Applicants should first apply to the Philosophy Department, for a place on the Philosophy PhD Programme.

To apply for the studentship, please contact Megan Blomfield to request an application form: m.blomfield@sheffield.ac.uk.

The closing date for applications is 17:00 (GMT) on January 23rd, 2019.

Project Description: ‘Climate Ethics and Enhanced Weathering’

Primary Supervisor: Megan Blomfield (Philosophy)
Secondary Supervisor: To be assigned after selection

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.

The Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation

This studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M). LC3M is an interdisciplinary centre supporting research across the sciences, humanities and social sciences. The centre aims to develop and assess the role of enhanced rock weathering with croplands as a means of potentially removing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, compatible with food security. Alongside developing and assessing the technology and its impacts, this project also includes streams of work on public acceptability and social, ethical and economic concerns regarding this technology.