As governments worldwide struggle to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, many are contemplating supplemental and controversial strategies, including Solar Radiation Management (“SRM”). SRM is a geoengineering technology deployed into the stratosphere that intentionally manipulates the environment to reduce global surface temperatures by reflecting incoming sunlight back into space. Despite initial findings of significant and uncertain environmental risks, no country thus far has elected to regulate SRM, even though more experimentation is necessary to understand the full effects of globally deploying the technology. In the United States, current environmental laws fail, without more, to protect the country from unilateral actors deploying SRM should these actors believe the dire effects of climate change warrant an immediate response, thereby presenting a significant national security threat. However, based on recent policy decisions, Congress appears willing to consider actively regulating geoengineering technologies, such as SRM. Pursuant to Congress’s most recent directive in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which instructs the Department of Defense (“DOD”) to consider its approach to “mitigation measures” in its 2022 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, this Article proposes that the DOD recommend that the federal government formulate a national governance approach to regulate SRM. If a governance approach is established, the United States will be better prepared to deal with the possible conflicts and disputes arising from the inevitable consideration of global SRM deployment as the effects of climate change become more dire.
Author: Meredith Doswell
Volume 22, Issue 3