Let’s talk openly to unite on solar radiation modification solutions.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 1, 2024
Honest dialogue is needed to help build consensus around solar radiation modification technology.jpegOrginal image from: https://phys.org/news/2024-05-honest-dialogue-consensus-solar-modification.html

Solar radiation modification technology presents a controversial yet critical solution to counteract global warming by reflecting incoming solar radiation. With various proposals such as stratospheric aerosol injection, cirrus cloud thinning, and marine cloud brightening, the intentional human interventions aim to increase Earth’s reflectivity. However, a lack of consensus exists globally regarding the deployment of these technologies. The risks associated with SRM technologies range from negative impacts on ecosystems to potential intergenerational injustices.

The Risks of SRM Technologies

Deploying SRM technologies without significant emissions cuts could lead to a dangerous dependence on sustained SRM actions. This dependency poses risks of rapid warming if SRM were abruptly stopped, resulting in harmful consequences worldwide. Additionally, SRM does not address greenhouse gas accumulation, potentially diverting attention and resources from necessary emission reductions. Challenges related to ocean acidification and solar energy utilization further complicate the effectiveness of SRM technologies.

The Need for Governance in SRM Technologies

In the face of controversy and uncertainty, governance of SRM technologies becomes crucial. A comprehensive scientific assessment is essential to inform multilateral discussions and governance frameworks. The absence of a global consensus highlights the necessity for transparent and inclusive assessment processes to address the risks and uncertainties associated with SRM. Mandating trusted intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations to lead assessments could pave the way for SRM governance.

Role of Scientific Assessments

Given the significant risks involved, international attention and oversight are imperative for SRM governance. Despite challenges in reaching consensus on assessing SRM at global forums, a transparent evaluation process inclusive of diverse perspectives could lead to eventual governance agreements. The International Panel on Climate Change and the UN Environment Program could play pivotal roles in facilitating these assessments and guiding governance frameworks.

Importance of Governance

Amidst the controversy surrounding SRM technologies, a non-use agreement emerges as a potential governance strategy. However, global discussions have yet to agree on such an outcome. Conducting transparent and inclusive scientific assessments is crucial to break the current deadlock and establish effective governance mechanisms. By addressing the high level of controversy, governance frameworks can ensure responsible and informed decision-making regarding SRM technologies.

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