16 May 2007
The Royal Society and leading scientists from around the world have demanded that governments put aside short-term squabbling to unite in action, including on energy policy, to help reduce the damage of climate change. This must combine investment to harness the power of science with regulation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The call comes in a joint statement presented to Angela Merkel, the German
Prime Minister, ahead of the G8 summit to be held in Germany in June. The
statement is signed by the national science academies of the G8 nations and
China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa.
Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society said: "Meeting the challenge of
climate change demands cooperative action by all the G8 countries - along with
India, China, and other rapidly-developing nations. Limiting global warming to
2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, without impeding the advance
of the developing world, is a very demanding goal and that level of warming
would still be likely to have some severe impacts.
"The urgency of the situation means tough decisions need to be taken now to
provide disincentives to carbon emissions. Much can then be done through
positive changes such as developing new technology or making more efficient use
of the systems already in place. The UK government has helped greatly to put
climate change high on the international agenda. There are now opportunities for
this country to gain a lead in spearheading new energy technologies.
"The amount of research and development - by governments and by private
industry worldwide - is far too small, given the scale and urgency of the
challenge. Whether it is the development of cleaner fuels or the introduction
of more efficient household electrical equipment, changes can be a spur for
economic growth and can reduce the needs of individuals for electricity and
heating. To tackle climate change need not inhibit economic advance, but
requires us to accelerate and redirect some of our efforts.
The Joint science academies' statement on growth and responsibility:
sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection highlights the weight
of scientific evidence that points to the role of man made greenhouse gas
emissions in recent global warming.
The scientists have issued the
following challenges to governments:
- Set standards and promote economic instruments for efficiency and promote
energy efficiency in buildings, electrical devices, transport and the energy
- Encourage people to change their behaviour
- Take action to reduce global deforestation
- Work with developing countries to leapfrog cleaner and more efficient
- Invest in science and technology to realise greater efficiency, zero-carbon
energy resources and carbon-removing technology.
The Joint science academies also issued a statement on innovation and the
need to balance promotion and protection. The statement calls for investment
and international cooperation alongside a need to balance protection of
intellectual property rights with free access to knowledge and information.
Joint science academies' statement: sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection
Joint science academies' statement: the promotion and protection of innovation