Environment Canada’s five-year science strategy includes looking into “climate-altering technologies” to deliberately alter the atmosphere and block out the sun.

The plan, outlined in the “Science Strategy 2024 to 2029” document from Environment and Climate Change Canada, signals the department’s near-term approach to research.

The key objective highlighted in the strategy is the need to enhance Canada’s comprehension of climate-altering technologies within its specific environmental context. 

This includes a mandate to investigate the potential and implications of various techniques designed to deliberately intervene in the climate system, with the overarching goal of aligning with Canada’s net-zero emissions target.

“Understand the potential for climate engineering and determine the implications of technologies that aim to deliberately alter the climate system, typically to counteract climate warming (e.g., solar radiation modification, marine geoengineering, carbon dioxide removal techniques),” the document reads. 

Another listed goal is to “conduct scientific assessments of climate-altering technologies and impacts on Canada.” 

Solar radiation modification encompasses a range of proposed methods, such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere to deflect solar radiation and thereby mitigate global warming in theory. 

Other approaches include cloud seeding above ocean surfaces or whitening clouds using chemicals to increase their reflectivity and reduce solar absorption.

While scientists claim these technologies hold promise as potential tools to address climate change, concerns have been raised regarding their potential risks and unintended consequences.

Critics warn that interventions like stratospheric aerosol injections could lead to unforeseen outcomes, including exacerbating climate change further, damaging the ozone layer and posing health risks.

“Depending on the materials it uses, it could damage the ozone layer. This can cause health and environmental problems,” warns the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative. 

“Stopping it suddenly could cause rapid temperature rise that would be disruptive to human society and be dangerous for many species.”