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Leading institutions say governments must act now if serious climate risks to be averted

Press release •

Twenty four of the UK’s foremost academic institutions 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.
The UK’s leading 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: 

“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.”

Sir John Beddington HonFREng, CMG, FRS, President of the Zoological Society of London, said:

“Clearly greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced drastically and soon if there is any chance of meeting the 2 degree goal.  However, climate change is already with us and even if greenhouse gases were drastically reduced in the near future, significant climate change will occur for many decades.  It is imperative that the best scientific advice on adaptation to this change is provided.  This is particularly important for human welfare, where water and food security issues loom, but also for the environment.  Global wildlife populations have halved in the last 40 years and such declines will be exacerbated by changing climate.”

The full Climate Communiqué can be found here. 

Notes to editors

1. For more information please contact the British Academy press office: press@britac.ac.uk / 02079695227

2. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value. For more information, please visit www.britishacademy.ac.uk. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news