The caption of image: Participants discussing SRM research at Degrees’ outreach workshop in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – September 2019.
Photo Credit: The Degrees Initiative.
The Degrees Initiative has launched a ground-breaking new fund for solar radiation modification (SRM) research in the social sciences. The new Socio-Political Fund marks a major expansion of Degrees’ work, and it is the world’s first research fund aimed exclusively at researchers in the Global South who want to study the social and political dimensions of SRM.
About the grants
Researchers from developing countries or emerging economies can apply for grants of up to USD 45,000 for teams, or USD 25,000 for individuals. As with Degrees’ grants for physical science research, applicants to the Socio-Political Fund are free to choose their own research topics and methods. Fields as diverse as ethics, law, economics, political science and risk science are eligible. The closing deadline for applications is 13 December 2023 (23:59 Greenwich Mean Time). For more information about the grants, eligibility, and how to apply, click here.
Applications will be evaluated via independent peer review, and grants will be awarded to the most promising proposals. Successful applicants will attend a research planning workshop, to be held in Istanbul in May 2024, to meet their fellow grantees and collaboratively refine their proposals. Additional funding may be awarded if teams can show the need to expand their research.
The Socio-Political Fund experience is about much more than just grants. Successful applicants will join Degrees’ growing global community of SRM experts. They will receive funding for conferences and open access publication fees, opportunities to collaborate with some of the world’s leading SRM experts, and access to communications support. The programme is designed to help Southern researchers become leading voices in the SRM conversation.
SRM—also known as sunlight reflection methods, climate intervention, or solar geoengineering—is a controversial proposal for reducing some of the impacts of climate change by reflecting away a small fraction of inbound sunlight. SRM could be very helpful or very harmful. It is the only known way to quickly stop or reverse the rise in global temperatures, and could be the only way to keep warming below 2°C if mitigation proves insufficient. But it could have dangerous side effects, it could cause tensions between countries and could distract governments from cutting carbon emissions.
The stakes are high, and nowhere more so than in the climate-vulnerable regions of the Global South. SRM raises numerous and diverse social and political challenges that will not be limited by political borders. Yet most SRM research—especially in the social sciences—has taken place in the Global North. This is what the Socio-Political Fund was set up to address.
Background to the Socio-Political Fund
The Socio-Political Fund follows in the footsteps of the Degrees Modelling Fund, which was the first SRM research fund aimed exclusively at developing countries. Five years after it was launched, the Degrees Modelling Fund is changing the face of SRM research. It is now the largest SRM research programme in the world, supporting over 150 researchers working on 24 projects in 21 developing countries and emerging economies. It launched the first SRM research projects in South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, and the scientists who came into SRM research through the Degrees Modelling Fund are now central to the SRM conversation.
We hope that the Socio-Political Fund will have a similar impact. There has been very little social science SRM research in the Global South to date, but developing countries will be most affected by any decision to use or reject SRM, and Southern experts should be central to SRM discussion and evaluation.
We note and commend the pioneering efforts of Resources For the Future, which launched the first international SRM social science research fund in 2022, and which supported four projects from the Global North and two from the Global South. We thank the RFF team, alongside many other advisers from around the world, for their invaluable input on the design of the Degrees Socio-Political Fund, although any shortcomings in our grant design are our responsibility.
About the Degrees Initiative
DEGREES stands for DEveloping country Governance, REsearch, and Evaluation for SRM, and is an NGO dedicated to putting the Global South at the centre of the SRM conversation. We are building a future where experts from every region of the Global South will play a central role in the evaluation and governance of SRM. We are changing the global environment in which SRM is evaluated, ensuring informed and confident representation from developing countries and emerging economies.
For over a decade, the Degrees Initiative has led the world in building the capacity of developing countries to evaluate SRM. We do this through outreach workshops, supporting research, and community-building activities, in collaboration with the world’s leading experts. We are impartial on SRM—on whether it should be used or rejected. But we believe the world is going to need much more research if it’s going to make informed decisions, and a much broader conversation if it’s going to make equitable decisions.
Please do share this Call for Proposals with any contacts who might be interested in applying!