Chief scientists and presidents of national science academies from more than 20 countries, including Sir Patrick Vallance, wrote to world leaders ahead of the COP26 climate summit, urging them to set policies to sharply cut emissions greenhouse gases, to limit global heating to 1.5 ° C.
Governments must quickly step up their policies to deploy low-carbon energy and other technologies and tackle emissions from key high-carbon sectors of the economy, as well as come up with innovative technologies, urged the petitioners.
Vallance, the UK’s Chief Science Officer, said: “The first key message is that 1.5C is achievable, and that’s absolutely what we should be aiming for. We must act now… A clear roadmap is necessary.
Their intervention, as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for the largest climate conference since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, aims to underscore scientific advice on the dangers the world faces in allowing emissions to continue to rise.
Building on the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climatology, released in August, they noted that global temperatures were already 1.09 ° higher. C to those of pre-industrial times and the impacts were felt in heat waves, excessive precipitation, forest fires, floods and droughts. They said: “With every fraction of an increase in warming, these effects will worsen, with all countries vulnerable.”
They also called for action to help those most affected by the climate crisis cope with its impacts.
It was still possible to keep temperatures 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, they said, but that would require drastic reductions in emissions over the next 10 years, as well as a long-term goal of net zero carbon. “This will require swift, urgent and sustained action and significant behavioral, socio-economic and technological transformations,” they wrote.
Vallance said: “This has to be the decade of R&D. We need to make sure that R&D and innovation are applied and extended. This will require intense international collaboration in all sectors. “
The 38 signatories are all chief scientists, presidents of their national science academies, or holders of some of their country’s top science advisory positions. They represent a wide range of developed and developing countries, including the United States, the EU, India, several countries in Africa and South America, and South Korea. Australia’s chief scientist Cathy Foley has signed on, while Scott Morrison’s government has come under fire for what critics have called inadequate net zero plans. Other signatories included Paulo Artaxo, professor of physics at the University of São Paulo, where Jair Bolsonaro’s government has long been hostile to climate action.
However, he was particularly missing from the list of scientists from China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. China’s position, as the world’s largest emitter, will be a key determinant of the outcome of Cop26, as fossil fuel producers Russia and Saudi Arabia have disrupted Cop agreements. in the past.
Professor Nicole Grobert, Chair of the European Commission Chief Scientific Advisors Group, added: “Achieving carbon neutrality requires innovation, low-emission choices and active participation. Science provides solutions to improve the quality of life through a fair and sustainable decarbonisation of our societies.
Dr Xavier Estico, Director General of the Seychelles National Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation, said: “History has taught us that science, technology and innovation, at their best. , have helped bring timely solutions to challenges that seemed beyond the reach of mankind. With the lessons learned, we should all work together to adopt the same spirit, philosophy and attitude to tackle the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.