As the climate crisis escalates, governments—and recently even those in the wealthier countries in the Global North—are struggling to manage the impacts we are experiencing around the world in frightening abundance, including record-setting temperatures, fires, floods, and glacial and ice melt. Behind closed doors, policymakers are concerned as they contemplate the increasing likelihood, even under the most ambitious emission reduction pathways, that the world will overshoot the goal agreed upon in the Paris Agreement to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5oC beyond pre-industrial levels.

It is in this “overshoot context” that interest is growing in an emerging, potentially supplementary technique that could be used as an emergency measure to intentionally alter the climate called solar radiation modification (SRM), also referred to as solar geoengineering. This article explores what SRM is; why interest is growing in better understanding the potential risks, benefits, and governance challenges of making use of such techniques compared to not making use of SRM; and why SRM urgently needs governance. Governance refers to structures, processes, and actions through which private and public actors interact to address societal goals at national and international levels.



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