Outreach workshop: participants from Mexico & Panama explore SRM risks

Group photo mexico workshop SRM
Day one participants of the UNAM and Degrees Initiative joint workshop on SRM, Mexico City. Photo Credit: UNAM.

NGOs, government agencies and universities from Mexico and Panama met on 18-19 April 2023 to grapple with the challenges raised by climate change and solar radiation modification (SRM).

The workshop, titled ‘Geoingeniería solar: implicaciones para Centroamérica y México’, was co-organised by the Degrees Initiative and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and took place in the UNAM Botanical Gardens in Mexico City.

The timing was significant, as it followed a recent ban by the Mexican government on all solar geoengineering experiments, in response to a stunt by a US start-up to release stratospheric aerosols in Baja California.

Opening speeches from UNAM Senior Researcher Prof. Amparo Martinez, UNAM Secretary of Scientific Research, Development and Coordination Dr José Manuel Saniger Blesa, and Degrees’ CEO Andy Parker, set the scene by discussing the threat of global warming and the novel challenges, concerns and controversies raised by SRM, emphasising the need to develop evidence-driven perspectives.

Juan Lucero at Degrees workshop
Juan Lucero, Project Coordinator for Panama’s Ministry of Environment speaking at day one of Degrees & UNAM joint workshop on SRM, Mexico City. Photo Credit: UNAM.

The first session focused on information exchange, with a presentation on climate risks in Mexico and Central America, followed by a brief introduction to SRM and its sociopolitical dimensions. Chris Guillot from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) discussed the ethics of solar geoengineering research, stressing the importance of broad deliberation set out in the AGU’s new ethical framework. Group sessions and panel discussions underlined the need for greater engagement, as many participants expressed important concerns about SRM and its potential global implications. 

Some of these concerns were addressed by regional Degrees Modelling Fund (DMF) scientists, including Prof. Inés Camilloni from Argentina, Prof. Alfonso Fernandez from Chile and Prof. Michelle Simões Reboita from Brazil. These academics all highlighted practical examples of how their SRM modelling research was comparing local impacts of climate change against those of SRM in Latin America.

Prof. Ines Camilloni presenting SRM research methods during day two of UNAM and Degrees Initiative joint workshop on SRM, Mexico City. Photo Credit: The Degrees Initiative.

Day two was a much smaller event for scientists interested in applying to a special DMF grant round for researchers from Central America and Mexico, a region where there are currently no SRM research teams. The day was run by the Degrees team and Prof. Inés Camilloni, sharing practical information about SRM research methods and DMF application processes. 

Degrees has never run an event in this region, so a workshop was long overdue. We hope through the connections built and knowledge shared, that the workshop will go on to encourage good quality applications and eventually high quality academic research into the local impacts of SRM and climate change in Central America and Mexico. We would like to extend a special thanks to our partners at UNAM and all the staff that helped organise and run the event.

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