UCL Earth Sciences


Dr Peter Irvine

Solar geoengineering, climate change, climate impacts, climate policy

Lecturer in Climate Change & Solar Geoengineering


Peter Irvine




LecturerKathleen Lonsdale, 301C

Courses Taught:

GEOL0013 Principles of climate (module organiser and lecturer)

Research Group(s):

Solar Geoengineering
CPOM Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling

Email Address:

Telephone Number:


020 3108 9872 (59872)

Research Summary

My research focuses on solar geoengineering, a set of proposals to increase the amount of light that the Earth reflects to lower its temperature. My work has two broad themes:

  • Evaluating the climate response to solar geoengineering. Using state of the art Earth system models, I analyse the climate response to stratospheric aerosol geoengineering and other solar geoengineering proposals. I am particularly interested in finding ways to understand and effectively visualize this climate response. 
  • Considering the broader implications of solar geoengineering. Collaborating with colleagues from a range of disciplines, I seek to draw out the implications of the scientific findings on solar geoengineering for the broader questions that this proposal raises.

Solar geoengineering describes a set of proposals to modify the Earth's radiation budget which may offer a means of reducing the impacts of climate change. Through my research, I seek to understand the potential risks and benefits of solar geoengineering and to explore its broader implications.

In my interdisciplinary work I seek to connect the scientific findings on solar geoengineering to the broader questions that this proposal to control the climate raises. I work with ethicists, economists and lawyers to better understand the potential harms and benefits of solar geoengineering and how they could be addressed through compensation. I also work to understand the implications that the technical requirements of solar geoengineering would have on its governance.

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Asking tough questions about the science, technology, and politics of climate change. Every two weeks, Jesse Reynolds and Dr. Pete Irvine explore how we can fight global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, carbon removal, adaptation and solar geoengineering. They consider the roles of computer models and persuasive narratives, economics and public policy, and renewable energy and national security in the climate debate, and look beyond to issues such as biotechnology and international development.

Plan A for climate change is to eliminate CO2 emissions as fast as possible and to do all we can to adapt to a changing world. While some countries are achieving significant emissions cuts, global emissions are still not falling. Plan A is failing and there is no Plan B. There’s no way around the fact that until we eliminate CO2 emissions, we’re only going to make the climate problem worse.
It’s time for Plan A+. What is Plan A+? It’s exactly the same as plan A, we would rapidly eliminate CO2 emissions and rush to adapt, but we would also reflect 1% of sunlight back to space.
In this newsletter I’ll explain how solar geoengineering could slash the risks of climate change and may even make it easier to achieve our other climate goals.

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