Inés Camilloni contributes to UNESCO ethics report on SRM

Ines Camilloni in the Widener Library, Harvard University - July, 2022. Credit: The Degrees Initiative.

Degrees-funded climate scientist Inés Camilloni is a member of a UNESCO commission that has published a new report on the ethical dimensions of climate engineering technologies, including solar radiation modification (SRM). Inés was elected to the World Commission of UNESCO on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) in 2022, an advisory body composed of eighteen leading scholars from scientific, legal, philosophical, cultural and political disciplines from around the world. The group examines the ethical principles of critical scientific issues to provide decision-makers with criteria that extend beyond economic considerations. 

The report discusses a number of ethical challenges around climate engineering and outlines existing debates on these technologies. Among a range of recommendations, it encourages further indoor research into climate engineering technologies, including SRM. It also calls for a broad and participatory approach to SRM governance to include all UNESCO member states as well as vulnerable, neglected and marginalised individuals and groups. These recommendations echo the work Degrees has been doing since 2010, building the capacity of developing countries to evaluate SRM, to ensure that experts from every region of the Global South play a central role in the evaluation and governance of this technology.

"SRM raises many challenging questions, including ethical ones, and it’s essential that the most climate-vulnerable countries are engaged in discussions that could affect decisions on the future of this technology."

On the publication of the report, Inés commented, “It was great to be a part of COMEST, to ensure Global South perspectives were accounted for in exploring the ethics of SRM.” She added, “SRM raises many challenging questions, including ethical ones, and it’s essential that the most climate-vulnerable countries are engaged in discussions that could affect decisions on the future of this technology.”

Inés began working on SRM through a Degrees grant, which she was awarded in 2018 to study the impacts of SRM on the hydrology of the La Plata Basin. Since then, she has gone on to become a leading expert on SRM. She was a co-author for the recent UNEP independent expert review on SRM, was elected as an IPCC Vice-Chair and held TED Talks on the subject. Inés currently runs the world’s first SRM modelling team with a majority of female scientists. 

As SRM is researched and its implications are evaluated, it’s essential to see reports like this including Global South perspectives and making recommendations for further scientific research.