The Policy outlines the government’s view on Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM), citing these as terms that describe,
” A range of technologies that aim to counteract human-caused climate change by deliberately large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems. They are sometimes referred to as ‘geo-engineering’ or ‘climate engineering.’”
In the paper, the UK government claims its priorities are to tackle the root cause of climate change and reduce emissions caused by human activities, through:
- Reducing greenhouse gases by employing Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)
- Reflecting some of the sun’s energy back into space using Solar Radiation Management (SRM) technologies.
Examples of the SRM technologies provided by the UK government in the policy paper include the brightening of marine clouds, and the injection of aerosols into the stratosphere, which it claims would be likely to reduce the Earth’s temperature but not reverse ocean acidification.
Geoengineering.global defines Solar Radiation Management as a large category of climate engineering approaches known as Earth Radiation Management (ERM), that mitigate or reverse Global Warming by reflecting sunlight (i.e., solar radiation/shortwave radiation) into space before it is absorbed by the environment and converted into heat.
These SRM approaches include:
Space-based geoengineering to reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the earth;
Stratospheric Aerosol Injection using tiny reflective sulfate particles or aerosols injected into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight;
Albedo Modification to reduce the surface property of the earth that can reflect or absorb radiation;
Ocean Albedo Modification using microbubbles of air injected into the water that increases the reflectivity or albedo of the ocean’s surface; and
Marine Cloud Brightening that increases the reflectivity of marine clouds by ‘seeding’ them with seawater aerosol.
In the Policy Paper, the UK government states these approaches are needed,
“In order to deliver on the commitment, the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement..”
The UK; which has also legislated for a net-zero emissions target by 2050; will employ these Solar Radiation Management (SRM) technologies to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement was negotiated and adopted by representatives of 197 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in 2015, and to date, the European Union and 194 states have signed the agreement.
The legally binding agreement is one within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, through a number of strategies.
In its goal to meet the terms of the agreement, the UK government has spent over £140.1 million on various collaborative works with Research Councils, the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund, and the Energy Innovation Programme.
As part of its regulatory review process, the government has consistently supported the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and adopted the decisions made by the CBD’s Conference of Parties (COP), who in 2010 invited parties to the agreement to take a ‘precautionary approach’ on any geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity until there was adequate scientific evidence to justify such activities.
“At the Montreal Protocol meeting in November 2019, the UK supported a decision asking the Protocol’s Scientific Assessment Panel to assess research related to Solar Radiation Management (SRM), and its potential effect on the stratospheric ozone layer,” the government said.
This assessment will be included in the next Montreal Protocol Quadrennial Assessment report due to be published in 2022.
As part of further supporting information provided in the policy paper to support the UK government’s position, it ‘links in’ the 2015 publication Climate Intervention – Reflecting Sunlight to Cool the Earth.
Contributors to the 2015 publication included the National Research Council, Division of Earth and Life Studies, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Ocean Studies Board, and the Committee on Geoengineering Climate.
According to the blurb by the National Research Council,
“Climate geoengineering has often been considered to be a ‘last-ditch’ response to climate change, to be used only if climate change damage should produce extreme hardship. Although the likelihood of eventually needing to resort to these efforts grows with every year of inaction on emissions control, there is a lack of information on these ways of potentially intervening in the climate system.”
Yet fast forward seven years to 2022, where the ‘lack of information’ surrounding climate interventions appears to have been resolved, and where ‘climate engineering’ is no longer considered to be a ‘last-ditch’ response.
As the UK works towards ways of reducing global warming and the net-zero targets set by the Paris Agreement, it is full speed ahead with its plan of a large-scale manipulation and modification of the Earth’s natural systems to block the sun’s energy through its ‘geo-engineering’ mechanisms.