Chilling Illusions: The Uncertain World of ‘Cooling Credits’

Solar climate interventions have emerged as potential strategies to offset global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space. One such concept, “cooling credits,” claims to counteract greenhouse gas-driven warming with aerosol-based cooling. However, the viability of these credits is uncertain due to various factors.

The primary goal of solar climate interventions is to cool the Earth by injecting aerosols, either into the upper atmosphere or low-altitude marine clouds, to reflect more sunlight away from the planet’s surface. This approach has garnered attention as the world strives to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 °C below pre-industrial levels.

The idea of “cooling credits” has recently surfaced, marketing the concept as a means to offset greenhouse gas warming with aerosol-based cooling. In theory, this would provide a mechanism for quantifying the cooling effects of solar climate interventions and potentially allow them to be traded in carbon markets or used in voluntary offset initiatives.

However, the scientific community has raised significant concerns about the uncertainty and inadequacy of current research on solar climate interventions. The complex interactions of aerosols in the atmosphere, their distribution, and their long-term impacts on climate remain poorly understood. Consequently, making credible claims about the efficacy of “cooling credits” is challenging at best.

To read more on the science of Cooling Credits read


Diamond, M.S., Wanser, K. & Boucher, O. “Cooling credits” are not a viable climate solution. Climatic Change 176, 96 (2023).