economists back climate engineering over taxation

Spraying seawater droplets into clouds to reflect back sunlight into space could cancel out the past century's increases in global warming, according to new climate change research.

As part of a wider study into the potential of so-called climate engineering, a panel of five economists released a report this week claiming that rather backing more carbon taxes, governments should divert funding to explore alternative methods of combating global warming.

The panel, known as the Copenhagen Consensus Center, released the findings of their study into the viability of 21 research papers that analysed the costs and benefits of different responses to global warming.

The Copenhagen Consensus on Climate report contains a list of potential responses to climate change and ranks them according to their effectiveness.

The panel said the most effective option would be to invest in researching so-called marine cloud-whitening technology. The leader of the panel, Dr Eric Bickel, said investing about $9bn (£5.5bn) in the technology could cancel out all the global warming rises over the past century.

Commenting on the findings, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center Bjorn Lomborg said the group had identified a lot of promising responses to climate change.

"Their work also makes it clear that current carbon taxes and cap-and-trade policies are very poor answers to global warming. We need to rethink our priorities to best respond to this challenge," he said.

Other technologies ranked as "very good" by the panel included energy R& D, stratospheric aerosol insertion research and carbon storage research. Those ranked as "very poor" included global carbon taxes ranging from $0.050 to $68.

Earlier this week, the UK's Royal Society released a mixed report on climate or geo-engineering in which it criticised some projects for being far-fetched but said the government should still provide some funding to investigate alternative ways to combat climate change.

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