Solar Climate Intervention: Options for International Assessment and Decision-Making

There is a growing risk that the global response to climate change will be inadequate to avoid an unsafe global climate. There is corresponding interest in exploring the potential need for, and feasibility of, rapid responses to avoid dangerous climate change – such as solar climate intervention (SCI). At the same time, there is concern that such intervention, if any, be implemented as safely as possible. This paper posits a scenario in which a group of countries seeks a cooperative, science-based approach to decision-making regarding the potential use of SCI, in the context of increasingly dangerous climate conditions, taking into account “two safeties:” the safety of the global climate, and the safety of SCI, if any, in response. The paper surveys the existing institutional landscape to identify the extent to which one or more international forums would be in a position: (1) to produce a high-quality, scientific/technological assessment that would enable informed, objective decisions to be taken on the two safeties, and (2) to take such decisions (pro or con). It concludes that several forums could potentially perform one or more aspects of the scientific/technological assessment function and that the UN Security Council is uniquely placed to take authoritative decisions in a climate emergency situation, but that there is no single international forum (at least as currently configured) that could effectively serve as “one-stop shopping” for both the assessment and decision-making functions.