The scientific case for urgent climate action is unequivocal. The IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis showed there is no doubt human activity has warmed the ocean, atmosphere and land and the world is now 1.09°C warmer than it was in the early industrial era. Sea levels are rising, while weather extremes and their impacts such as heatwaves, excess rainfall, wildfires, flooding and droughts are more intense and more frequent. Climate modelling indicates that with every fractional increase in warming, these effects will get worse with all countries vulnerable.
The latest science tells us it is still possible to limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century, but only with steep reduction in global emissions by 2030 and if we reach global net zero around 2050, based on targets defined by Nationally Determined Contributions. Stabilising the climate would limit the increase of sea-level rises and probability of extreme weather events. It would improve prospects for prosperity, and protect the health of humans and natural ecosystems. It will require rapid, urgent and sustained action and significant behavioural, socioeconomic and technological transformations across the world. This must begin with rapid scale up and deployment of a wide range of existing and novel technological solutions.
Successfully mitigating climate change also requires intense international collaboration on research and innovation to develop and deliver new solutions across all sectors of the global economy. There is an urgent need for enhanced methods of creating, storing and using low-emissions energy – including improving semiconductors, batteries and low-emitting fuel production – as well as work on heating and cooling, and carbon capture and storage. More efficient, innovative and environmentally friendly methods in agriculture, industry, building and transport are also required. Further work is necessary to enhance our understanding of the interactions between biodiversity, ecosystems and climate change, to protect the natural world from further biodiversity loss and maximise its ability to store carbon. Actions should be practical and people-centred so that global transitions can be fast, efficient, equitable, respectful, affordable and inclusive. It will require investment, but immediate benefits and progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals are achievable, including improved air quality, human health, energy security and economic opportunities. In the long term, the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action.
In parallel, adapting to the consequences of climate change is critical. Even at 1.5°C, essential systems will be affected, such as housing, transport, healthcare, food and water supplies, with effects greater on already vulnerable populations. Adaptation efforts today will help ensure the continued safety, security and prosperity of our communities and industries. This requires continued support for foundational research to produce accurate and timely climate models at the local, national and international level. It also requires wide-ranging research and innovation to deepen understanding of the human, political, environmental and economic impacts of climate change and enable creation of locally-led plans and actions to counter or cope with these impacts.
In November this year, Parties to the UNFCCC will come together at COP26 in Glasgow. We call on their researchers, industry leaders, policymakers and political leaders to work with communities to:
Develop ambitious scientific evidence-based Long-Term Strategies which demonstrate efforts to keep the 1.5°C temperature goal alive. These should:
- Focus on the policies and requirements – technological, socioeconomic, and financial – to pilot and scale up existing decarbonisation solutions over the next decade which will help to achieve near-term targets and Nationally Determined Contributions, while assisting in keeping 1.5°C within reach.
- Include plans to accelerate development and deployment of next-generation decarbonisation solutions that are not yet affordable, effective or available.
- Contain clear pathways for achieving emissions reductions targets, detailed sectoral policies, regular reviews of progress, and be updated as appropriate to reflect scientific and technological developments.
- Enable just transitions for sectors and communities in diverse contexts, and reflect the roles and choices of all actors and stakeholders in the green transition.
Increase international collaboration to accelerate research, development, demonstration and deployment of effective mitigation and adaptation solutions. These should:
- Build on and strengthen existing international initiatives.
- Be outcomes-focused, with regular reviews of progress, and backed by appropriate funding and staffing.
- Facilitate sharing of expertise, indigenous knowledge, and data, creating an evidence-base that helps all countries deploy existing mitigation and adaptation solutions in a locally-appropriate manner, informed by the voices of the vulnerable and marginalised.
Establish programmes to strengthen global research and innovation capacity. These should:
- Build on the range of existing initiatives to align and expand research and innovation capacity, supporting direct participation and access to innovation at all levels and across all sectors.
- Be backed by efficient financial frameworks and technology transfer systems.
- Promote greater use of evidence in decision making and support development of efficient, scalable, affordable and inclusive innovations.
Professor Paulo Artaxo
Professor of Environmental Physics, Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil
Member of IPCC
Professor Ekanem Braide FAS
President, The Nigerian Academy of Science
Dr. Asha Dookun-Saumtally
Vice President, Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
Professor Jerzy Duszynski
President, The Polish Academy of Sciences
Professor Rajaâ Cherkaoui EL MOURSI
Member of Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology, Morocco
Vice President, Board of the Network of African Science Academies
Dr. Xavier Estico
Director General, Division of Science Technology and Innovation, Seychelles Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry
Professor Mark W. J. Ferguson
Director General, Science Foundation Ireland
Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland
Dr. Cathy Foley
Australia's Chief Scientist
Professor Dame Juliet A. Gerrard DNZM Hon FRSC FRSNZ
New Zealand Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
Kaitohutohu Mtanga Ptaiao Matua ki te Pirimia
Professor Pascal O. Girot
Director, School of Geography, University of Costa Rica
Professor Nicole Grobert
Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission
Dr. Saleemul Huq
Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development
Independent University Bangladesh
Professor Johan Kuylenstierna
Adjunct Professor and Senior Advisor to the President,
Chair, Swedish Climate Policy Council
Dr. Eric S. Lander
Science Advisor to the President of the United States of America and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Professor Jürg Luterbacher
Chief Scientist, World Meteorological Organization
Professor Ishmael Masesane PhD, FRSC
President, Botswana Academy of Science
Professor Arturo Menchaca-Rocha
General Coordinator, Consejo Consultivo de Ciencias (CCC), México
Professor Modesto Montoya
Presidential Adviser on Scientific Matters, Peru
Professor Desamanya Mohan Munasinghe
Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Chairman, Presidential Expert Commission on Sustainable Sri Lanka 2030 Vision
Head of Science and Government, Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, Chile
Professor Antonio Navarra
Full Professor, Meteorology & Oceanography
University of Bologna, Italy
President, Fondazione Centro EuroMediterraneo sui cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC)
Dr. Mona Nemer, C.M., C.Q., FRSC, FCIC
Chief Science Advisor of Canada
Conseillère scientifique en chef du Canada
Professor Walter O. Oyawa
National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, Kenya
Professor Costas N. Papanicolas
President of The Cyprus Institute
Advisor to the President of the Republic of Cyprus and Special Envoy for Climate Change
Professor Rafael Radi, MD, PhD
Director, Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas,
Universidad de la República, Uruguay
President, Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Uruguay
Dr. Victor A. Ramos
President National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Argentina
Professor Filipe Duarte Santos
President, National Council on Environment and Sustainable Development, Portugal
Professor Himla Soodyall
Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa
Professor Tarmo Soomere
President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences
Chair of the European Science Advisors Forum
Professor Marcel Tanner
President Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Director General, Danish Meteorological Institute
Professor Ion Tiginyanu
President of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova
Sir Patrick Vallance
UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Professor K. VijayRaghavan
Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India
Dr. Jose Ramon Villarin SJ PhD
Director, Manila Observatory, Philippines
Dr. Takahiro UEYAMA
Full-Time Executive Member, Japanese Council for Science, Technology and Innovation
Professor Kavwanga E.S. Yambayamba, PhD, FZaAS, FAIZ, JP
President, Zambia Academy of Sciences
Professor Han Woong Yeom
Vice-Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology, Republic of Korea