STATEMENT BY INTERNATIONAL SENIOR SCIENTIFIC ADVISERS AHEAD OF COP26

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 degrees Celsius 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 degrees Celsius 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 degrees Celsius, 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.

List of signatories:

NameOrganisation, country
Professor Paulo ArtaxoProfessor of Environmental Physics, Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil Member of IPCC
Professor Ekanem Braide FASPresident, The Nigerian Academy of Science
Dr Asha Dookun-SaumtallyVice President, Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
Professor Jerzy DuszynskiPresident, The Polish Academy of Sciences
Professor Rajaâ Cherkaoui EL MOURSIMember of Hassan II Academy of Science and Technology, Morocco
Vice President, Board of the Network of African Science Academies
Dr Xavier EsticoDirector General, Division of Science Technology and Innovation, Seychelles Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry
Professor Mark W. J. FergusonDirector General, Science Foundation Ireland. Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland
Dr Cathy FoleyAustralia’s Chief Scientist
Professor Dame Juliet A. Gerrard DNZM Hon FRSC FRSNZNew Zealand Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua ki te Pirimia
Professor Pascal O. GirotDirector, School of Geography, University of Costa Rica
Professor Nicole GrobertChair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission
Dr Saleemul HuqDirector, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University Bangladesh
Professor Johan KuylenstiernaAdjunct Professor and Senior Advisor to the President, Stockholm University. Chair, Swedish Climate Policy Council
Dr Eric S. LanderScience Advisor to the President of the United States of America and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Professor Corinne Le Quéré CBE FRSRoyal Society Professor of Climate Change Science, University of East Anglia. Chair of the French High Council on Climate
Professor Jürg LuterbacherChief Scientist, World Meteorological Organization
Professor Ishmael Masesane PhD, FRSCPresident, Botswana Academy of Science
Professor Arturo Menchaca-RochaGeneral Coordinator, Consejo Consultivo de Ciencias (CCC), México
Professor Modesto MontoyaPresidential Adviser on Scientific Matters, Peru
Desamanya Professor Mohan MunasingheVice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Chairman, Presidential Expert Commission on Sustainable Sri Lanka 2030 Vision
Leonardo MuñozHead of Science and Government, Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, Chile
Professor Antonio NavarraFull Professor, Meteorology & Oceanography University of Bologna, Italy. President, Fondazione Centro EuroMediterraneo sui cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC)
Dr Mona Nemer, C.M., C.Q., FRSC, FCICChief Science Advisor of Canada Conseillère scientifique en chef du Canada
Professor Walter O. OyawaDirector General/CEO National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, Kenya
Professor Costas N. PapanicolasPresident of The Cyprus Institute. Advisor to the President of the Republic of Cyprus and Special Envoy for Climate Change
Professor Rafael Radi, MD, PhDDirector, Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. President, Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Uruguay
Dr Victor A. RamosPresident National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Argentina
Professor Filipe Duarte SantosPresident, National Council on Environment and Sustainable Development, Portugal
Professor Himla SoodyallExecutive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa
Professor Tarmo SoomerePresident of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Chair of the European Science Advisors Forum
Professor Marcel TannerPresident Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Marianne ThyrringDirector General, Danish Meteorological Institute
Professor Ion TiginyanuPresident of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova
Sir Patrick VallanceUK Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Professor K. VijayRaghavanPrincipal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India
Dr Jose Ramon Villarin SJ PhDDirector, Manila Observatory, Philippines
Dr Takahiro UEYAMAFull-Time Executive Member, Japanese Council for Science, Technology and Innovation
Professor Kavwanga E.S. Yambayamba, PhD, FZaAS, FAIZ, JPPresident, Zambia Academy of Sciences
Professor Han Woong YeomVice-Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology, Republic of Korea

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