Climate change is one of the greatest challenges confronting society today. Solar climate engineering (SCE) has the potential to reduce climate risks substantially. This controversial technology would make the earth more reflective in order to counteract global warming. Though the science of SCE is still in its infancy, SCE research and development should proceed in a coordinated, responsible, and expeditious fashion. However, the role of patents, research data, and trade secrets in SCE research remains unclear and contested. To this end, this article identifies concerns that may arise through the acquisition of intellectual property rights in SCE and proposes the formation of an SCE “research commons” to facilitate responsible SCE research and development. This research commons would permit public and private sector research institutions around the globe to share their research data. They would also pledge that any patents or trade secrets they obtain would be managed so as to reduce unnecessary barriers to research and development of safe and effective SCE technologies.
Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 18 (1), 1-110