The British Academy is one of 24 leading institutions who have have called on national governments to take immediate action if they want to avert the serious risks posed by climate change.
A joint communiqué published today brings together a diverse range of organisations from across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, medicine and engineering for the first time. These institutions say that to tackle climate change, governments, including that of the UK, must seize the opportunity at climate talks in Paris in December to negotiate an agreement based on the latest scientific evidence.
Pointing to that scientific evidence, the organisations say that if we are to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming in this century to 2°C relative to the pre-industrial period, we must transition to a zero-carbon world by early in the second half of the century.
Lord Stern of Brentford Kt, FBA, FRS, President of the British Academy, said:
"This statement demonstrates the strength of the agreement among the UK’s research institutions about the risks created by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Britain's Our research community has for many decades been at the forefront of efforts to expand our understanding and knowledge of the causes and potential consequences of climate change. While some of our politicians and newspapers continue to embrace irrational and reckless denial of the riscks of climate change, the UK's leading research institutions are united in recognising the unequivocal evidence that human activities are driving climate change.
"Now is the time for the Prime Minister and the rest of his Government to show leadership on this issue, by implementing effective domestic policies to tackle climate change and to support efforts overseas, including a strong international agreement in Paris at the end of this year. The UK led the world with both the modern scientific revolution and the industrial revolution, and must lead again now on the creation of a safer, cleaner and more prosperous world. Tackling climate change is a responsibility for the whole world, but the UK has a special position at the forefront of international efforts. The statement highlights the fact that the transition to a low-carbon economy offers enormous opportunities for better and stronger growth, while high-carbon growth cannot be sustained."
Download the climate communiqué.
Find out more about the British Academy Debates series, which focuses next on Energy and the Environment.