Over 60 climate scientists and governance scholars on Monday launched an initiative calling for an international non-use agreement on solar geoengineering.
Solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation management or modification, is a set of technologies to lower global temperatures by artificially intervening in the climate systems, according to a website launched by the experts. The technology involves practices like massive spraying of aerosols in the earth’s stratosphere to block a part of incoming sunlight to cool the planet.
The group has called upon academics, civil society organisations and concerned individuals to sign an open letter to governments across the world, the United Nations and other stakeholders to stop the development and use of such technologies.
In their letter, the experts argued that solar geoengineering involves the use of “hypothetical technologies”. They said that the risks of use of such technologies are “poorly understood and can never be fully known”.
“Impacts will vary across regions, and there are uncertainties about the effects on weather patterns, agriculture, and the provision of basic needs of food and water,” the letter stated.
The experts have also expressed concerns that the availability of solar geoengineering technologies in the future could disincetivise the efforts and commitments being made towards achieving carbon neutrality in the world.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by offsetting a measured amount of carbon with an equivalent amount sequestered.
The experts rallying against the use of solar geoengineering contended that the technology could become “a powerful argument for industry lobbyists, climate denialists, and some governments to delay decarbonisation policies”.
In the letter, they also cast apprehensions that the existing global governance system, which included the United Nations bodies focused on climate change, was “unfit to develop and implement the far-reaching agreements needed to maintain fair, inclusive, and effective political control over solar geoengineering deployment”.
The group of experts proposed an international non-use agreement on solar geoengineering that called upon governments and the United Nations to make the following commitments:
- To prohibit national funding agencies from supporting the development of technologies for solar geoengineering.
- To ban outdoor experiments of solar geoengineering technologies.
- To not grant patent rights for technologies for solar geoengineering.
- To not deploy technologies for solar geoengineering if developed by third parties.
- To object to future institutionalisation of planetary solar geoengineering as a policy option in relevant international institutions, including assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.