You call for stronger governance of climate-mitigation strategies that reflect the Sun's energy away from Earth (Nature 485, 415; 2012). We see the scientists' cancellation of a controversial field trial for the UK Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) project (Nature 485, 429; 2012) as responsible self-governance in the absence of the governmental oversight that is needed for solar geoengineering research.

The decision to cancel the SPICE balloon experiment can advance norms for research priorities and conditions of research. The underlying governance principles have been articulated by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Climate Remediation Research and the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI), sponsored by the UK Royal Society, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).

On the basis of the SPICE example, scientists can now decide — through projects, workshops and professional societies — that there should be no immediate research into deployment methods for geoengineering technologies, and that they will not engage in research that has intellectual-property implications. They can also learn from SPICE about public engagement and ways to make research transparent.

Eventually, legitimate governance must grow out of consultations with diverse constituencies (such as those sponsored by the SRMGI) and needs to come from governmental institutions that are fully accountable to society.