At the UN Environment Assembly, Africa assists in refuting a proposal for solar geoengineering.

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Proponents of solar geoengineering think that it might be able to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, detractors have cautioned that a number of disastrous effects might materialize.

At the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, African nations spearheaded a successful campaign against solar geoengineering, which involves reflecting sunlight back into space to halt climate change.

One type of geoengineering being considered in response to rising global temperatures is “solar radiation modification,” which involves reflecting solar radiation back into space. An example of this would be releasing sulfur dioxide on purpose to prevent sunlight from reaching Earth. The extraction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a further suggested strategy.

Proponents of these technologies think they might help mitigate the effects of climate change. But critics have cautioned that if geoengineering methods don’t perform as planned, a number of disastrous effects might occur.

Switzerland presented a proposal to the UN Environmental Assembly, which was held in Nairobi last week. The resolution was widely seen as an attempt to open the door for the de facto suspension of the 2010 ban on solar geoengineering.

Fearing that the technology would have unintended effects on the continent, the African group led the resistance to the Swiss proposals at the summit. Senegal was one of the African nations who had originally supported the resolution but later switched their minds.

As a result, on the final day of the conference, the Swiss delegation withdrew their resolution, so postponing the 2010 moratorium.

According to Swiss officials, their objective is to form a proficient working group that will assess the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies while guaranteeing the maintenance of international supervision.

Since last year’s global temperatures rose above the crucial 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, decision-makers are thinking about taking more extreme action to halt climate change. For the seventh time in a row, the global monthly temperature record was broken in February 2024.

In addition to modifying solar radiation, other methods have been proposed: ocean fertilization, which involves discharging iron or other nutrients into the oceans to promote phytoplankton growth; the phytoplankton would sequester carbon, which would be stored on the ocean floor when they die and sink; and marine cloud brightening, which involves spraying salts into clouds to increase their reflectance of sunlight.

In Nairobi, a number of nations, including the US, backed the African position. However, some believe that US resistance was more motivated by a desire to keep control of geoengineering governance away from the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) than by actual concerns about geoengineering.

Furthermore, the argument over the technology is far from ended because a number of billionaires, including Bill Gates, have founded businesses that want to experiment with novel solutions.

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