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Leading UK scientific organizations urge governments to tackle climate change head on

21 Jul 2015 Tushna Commissariat
The heat is on: NASA global temperature map, including historical data and predictions up to the year 2100

A joint statement on climate change from 24 of the UK’s foremost academic and professional institutions, including the Royal Society and the Institute of Physics, which publishes Physics World, has been released today. The statement recognizes that human activity is responsible for climate change, and the organizations are urging governments to take immediate action if they are to avert the serious risks posed by the changing climate.

The statement brings together a variety of institutions from across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, medicine and engineering fields. These leading UK institutions say that to tackle climate change, governments worldwide, including that of the UK, must seize the opportunity at November’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to negotiate a legally binding and universal agreement on tackling climate change, based on the latest scientific evidence.

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“The scientific evidence that climate change is real, and that it’s caused by human action, is compelling. If we’re to limit its effects, then we have to act sooner rather than later,” says Institute of Physics president Frances Saunders. She adds that “physics is not only central to understanding the climate, it will also be fundamental to mitigating its effect and transitioning to low-carbon technologies”.

The statement warns that to truly limit global warming in this century to 2 °C relative to the pre-industrial period will require a transition to a net zero-carbon world by early in the second half of this century, and calls on governments to put in place the necessary policy and technological responses, while seizing the opportunities of low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. The organizations agree that the scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming, and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases.

Climate change poses risks to human beings and ecosystems the world over by worsening existing economic, environmental, geopolitical, health and societal threats, and generating new ones. These issues include everything from the increased risk from extreme weather – the like of which is already being seen globally – with a rise of 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, to substantial species extinction and global food insecurity at or above 4 °C.

  • In 2013 Simon Buckle from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change spoke to Physics World to share his thoughts on big impact of climate change. Watch more from our 100 Second Science video series

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