Leading UK institutions call for immediate action on climate change ahead of Paris Summit

Tuesday 21st Jul 2015 by theWeather Club

A coalition of 24 of the UK’s foremost academic institutions and learned societies from across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, medicine and engineering, has called for immediate action to avert the serious threats posed by climate change.

The joint Climate Communiqué, which was initiated by the Royal Meteorological Society’s Climate Science Communication Group, states that we must transition to a zero-carbon world by early in the second half of this century if we are to avoid extreme weather which would put more ecosystems and cultures in significant danger.

It says: “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases.”

The one-page document - which can be downloaded below - has been released ahead of the Paris summit in November 2015, where Governments will meet to negotiate a legally-binding and universal agreement on tackling climate change based on the latest scientific evidence.

The communiqué emphasises that in order to limit global warming to 2oC relative to the pre-industrial period, we must transition into a zero-carbon world early in the second half of the century. It also highlights and illustrates that governments must recognise the risks posed by climate change, embrace appropriate technological responses and seize opportunities of low-carbon and climate resilient growth.

Dr Ed Hawkins FRMetS, Research Fellow at University of Reading, contributing author to both IPCC AR5 WG1 & WG2 and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, said, "Climate change poses substantial risks on a global scale. Mitigating these risks requires coordinated international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and also provides ample opportunities for innovation. This communiqué highlights a unanimous agreement from a wide range of learned societies about the challenges that lie ahead. Such a consensus is essential as addressing the risks and maximising the opportunities will only be possible with a sustained and coordinated approach from policymakers and a broad range of scientific communities."

Dr Peter Stott FRMetS, Leading Climate Scientist at the Met Office, co-ordinating lead author of IPPC AR5 WG1 and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: “This climate communiqué initiated by the Royal Meteorological Society and endorsed by many of the country's learned societies highlights the risks climate change poses, the responses required and the opportunities available. Ahead of the meeting in Paris later this year to negotiate an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, This is the first time such a wide spectrum of our learned societies have come together to highlight the urgent need to tackle climate change. Climate change poses substantial risks to the UK but also provides the country with substantial opportunities to lead the transition to a zero-carbon world.”

Dr Emily Shuckburgh FRMetS, climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: “Climate change is a resolvable problem. This communiqué from the UK's leading learned societies and academic institutions emphasises that. Evidence-based action taken now, by governments and also by individuals, businesses, local communities and public institutions, can avert many of the risks posed by climate change and at the same time allow opportunities for low carbon and climate-resilient growth to be seized. The challenge is great and responding to it will require the full application of human political, social and technological capability in an unprecedented collective endeavour. But with strong leadership and unwavering commitment to eliminating carbon pollution, we can look forward to a positive future in a zero-carbon world.”

Prof. Tim Palmer CBE FRS FRMetS, Royal Society Research Professor at University of Oxford and former President of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: “Climate science does not take sides in the debate about mitigating the impact of climate change. This communiqué from the learned societies says that if we want to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change, we must urgently cut our emissions of greenhouse gases. Whether we do want to reduce this risk is ultimately up to us - society. As such, this communiqué provides an example of climate science being policy relevant, not policy prescriptive.

The Climate Communiqué can be downloaded here >>