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Climate scientists: Ban solar geoengineering

Climate scientists: Ban solar geoengineering

‘The risks are poorly understood and can never be fully known’

The following open letter was issued by an international coalition of prominent scientists and governance scholars on January 17, 2022. It calls for an international treaty to outlaw attempts to reduce global heating by blocking sunlight from reaching earth.

Sixteen of the signatories are co-authors of Solar geoengineering: The case for an international non-use agreement, published simultaneously in the journal WIREs Climate Change. That paper concludes:

“Solar geoengineering is not necessary. Neither is it desirable, ethical, or politically governable in the current context. With the normalization of solar geoengineering research moving on with rapid speed, a strong political message to block these technologies is needed. And this message must come soon.”


OPEN LETTER

Solar geoengineering – a set of hypothetical technologies to reduce incoming sunlight on Earth – is gaining prominence in debates on climate policy. Several scientists have launched research projects on solar geoengineering, and some see it as a potential future policy option.

To us, these proliferating calls for solar geoengineering research and development are cause for alarm. We share three fundamental concerns:

First, the risks of solar geoengineering 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.

Second, speculative hopes about the future availability of solar geoengineering technologies threaten commitments to mitigation and can disincentives governments, businesses, and societies to do their utmost to achieve decarbonization or carbon neutrality as soon as possible. The speculative possibility of future solar geoengineering risks becoming a powerful argument for industry lobbyists, climate denialists, and some governments to delay decarbonization policies.

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