Scientists in Mexico research local impacts of solar radiation modification

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+ Today the Degrees Initiative announced funding for the first two solar radiation modification (SRM) research teams based in Mexico. The teams are based at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and they will model how SRM could affect heatwaves and biodiversity.

Last year Mexico announced its intention to ban outdoor solar geoengineering activities after an American start-up company attempted a small-scale SRM balloon test on Mexican territory.

+ SRM remains a controversial issue but has received more attention in recent months as the impacts from climate change around the world intensify. Those suffering from the worst effects of climate change have potentially the most to gain or the most to lose from SRM. This makes it even more crucial that these regions are at the centre of the conversations about its potential use or non-use, to support informed and equitable decision-making.

+ 2023 was recorded as the hottest year on record, and the threat of climate change is growing. The stakes are high, and this is apparent in Mexico which is on the frontlines of climate change. Mexico has already experienced temperature increases above the global average over the last 100 years, and increasingly policy makers are discussing strategies to reduce risks.

+ In Mexico, the new teams led by Dr Graciela Lucia Binimelis de Raga and Dr Julian A. Velasco at UNAM will seek to model how climate change and SRM might impact heatwaves and biodiversity, respectively, in Mexico and Central America.

By modelling the potential impacts of SRM and climate change these scientists will build an evidence base that policy makers in Mexico and Central America can use to make informed decision about reducing climate risks. This is local research done by Global South scientists, who will communicate their findings openly to key stakeholders through peer-reviewed academic publications.

On the announcement of the funding, Dr Graciela Lucia Binimelis de Raga said: “Climate extremes are increasing all over the world. In Mexico, millions of people are being affected by heatwaves and related impacts – last year’s heatwave was a shocking example, and already this year, temperatures are breaking records. More research is needed into the atmospheric changes associated to climate change, so our study will evaluate how SRM implementation alongside climate change might impact heatwaves in the region. It’s important we understand potential impacts – positive or negative – that SRM could have in the region, to help inform decision making should the technology be explored in the future.”

Dr Julian A. Velasco said: “Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but many animal and plant species are threatened by different human pressures. We also don’t have enough research assessing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity regionally, limiting the information available to policymakers on key conservation issues. There are even fewer studies, to our knowledge, about how SRM could affect biodiversity, regionally and globally. To address this gap, our study will use cutting-edge modelling to evaluate how species could be affected by both climate change and potential climate mitigation strategies like SRM.”

Andy Parker, founder and CEO of the Degrees Initiative said: “The future of SRM lies in the countries of the Global South doing their own research and making their own minds up, not in start-up companies doing stunt “experiments” for profit. We are proud to support the first responsible SRM research in Mexico and we look forward to learning from these exciting new studies on heatwaves and biodiversity.”

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