*** SIGNATORIES FROM GLOBAL NORTH COUNTRIES TO HOLD A PhD OR HIGHER AND WORK AT - OR BE AFFILIATED TO - AN ACADEMIC OR SCIENCE INSTITUTION ***
*** SIGNATORIES FROM GLOBAL SOUTH COUNTRIES TO HOLD A MASTERS OR HIGHER AND WORK AT - OR BE AFFILIATED TO - AN ACADEMIC OR SCIENCE INSTITUTION ***
Forty years after the first climate summit in Geneva in 1979, 11,000 scientists published a manifesto in 2019 to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to "tell it like it is”.
Almost three years later, and in a global context highly unfavorable to emergency climate action, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has proclaimed that humanity is facing “collective suicide”.
The response of scientists the world over must be decisive. How do we honor the public's growing trust in our expert community in the face of looming catastrophes of climate and ecological breakdown? It is simple: academics must share with the public what they share with each other about the world's response to climate change and biodiversity loss.
The Paris Agreement’s goal of restricting global average temperature rise to below 1.5°C is a case in point. Senior academics accept there is no plausible pathway to 1.5°C. This requires global emissions to peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43% by 2030. Even that would likely lead to 1.5°C being exceeded within the next ten years. The most optimistic scenario reported by the IPCC rests on the hypothetical deployment of large-scale carbon dioxide removal technologies to drag temperatures back down by the end of the century.
A 2021 anonymous survey of world-leading climate scientists by the science journal Nature, revealed just 4% of respondents thought limiting warming to 1.5°C was likely. The majority thought the world is heading towards a catastrophic 3°C of warming by the end of the century.
Continuing to say publicly 1.5°C is still alive is no longer defensible, yet politicians, leading academics and the environmental movement persist in doing so. In response, polluting industries and policymakers are inadvertently being encouraged to resist rapid decarbonization.
And so we academics must act. As signees to this letter, we compassionately call upon the community of scientists working across all aspects of climate change to make a clear public statement ahead of COP27 in November, consisting of the following:
- First, make clear the inevitability of missing the 1.5°C goal as laid out by the IPCC in its latest assessment.
- Second, set out the challenge of restricting temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C’ (in line with 2015 Paris Agreement) using the most conservative assumptions about the potential of negative emissions technologies. This is to reflect scientific uncertainty on the subject, and to show the public the enormity of reducing carbon emissions in line with scientific findings.
- Finally, and in direct response to the above, call for the three pillars of climate policy – mitigation, adaptation, and compensation (i.e. loss & damage) – to be effective. This means rich nations treating a still unmet pledge to deliver $100 billion per annum to help poorer countries to cope with climate change, as a minimum starting point.
It is not the first time in our history that the scientific community has wielded its responsibility to tell the truth to society about the real possibility of global cataclysm, and to demand that those in power act accordingly. Let us remember that the danger of nuclear war was the cause of a massive and unprecedented mobilization of the scientific community in the 20th century. The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, published in 1955, clearly stated: "Remember your humanity and forget the rest".
Our first responsibility has not changed: tell the truth - as far as we can discern it. Academics cannot fix decades of delay, but we can help societies take the radical action now needed to limit even worse outcomes. In remembering our humanity, we can act to restore it.
Professor Marta Guadalupe Rivera Ferre, society & environment interactions within agri-food systems, Spanish National Research Council, Spain. IPCC lead author (AR5, SRCCL)
Professor Carlo Rovelli, Theoretical Physicist, Aix-Marseille University, France
Dr Stella Nyambura Mbau PhD, Sustainable Development Post Doctoral research fellow, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, Kenya
Professor Wolfgang Cramer, Environmental Geographer and Global Ecologist CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France. IPCC lead author (AR6)
Dr Sergio Carrillo. Physics. Universidad San Buenaventura - Ciencia Local. Bogotá, Colombia
Dr. Vivien Bonnesoeur, Ecology and Hydrology, Consorcio de Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregión Andina, Peru
Dr Robert Hofstede, Corporación ECOPAR, Ecuador
Dr Anna Norberg, Ecology, Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Dr Samantha Iyer, Assistant Professor History, Fordham University, USA
Professor Eva Garcia-Vazquez, Full Professor in Genetics, genetic adaptation to global change, University of Oviedo, Spain
Dr Peter Kalmus, Climate Scientist, UCLA, United States of America
Professor Anne Baillot, German Studies and Digital Humanities, Le Mans Université, France
Professor Bill McGuire, Emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, IPCC author, UK