In an unprecedented action, the national science academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China and India have signed a statement stressing that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear and urging world leaders, including those meeting at the G8 summit next month, to do the following:
Acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing
Launch an international study to explore scientifically-informed targets for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and their associated emissions scenarios, that will enable nations to avoid impacts deemed unacceptable.
Identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognize that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and will likely incur a greater cost.
Work with developing nations to build a scientific and technological capacity best suited to their circumstances, enabling them to develop innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, while explicitly recognizing their legitimate development rights.
Show leadership in developing and deploying clean energy technologies and approaches to energy efficiency, and share this knowledge with all other nations.
Mobilize the science and technology community to enhance research and development efforts, which can better inform climate change decisions.
In announcing the statement, Lord May of Oxford, President of the UK Royal Society, was clear on the urgency, and on the need for a change in US policy.
It is clear that world leaders, including the G8, can no longer use uncertainty about aspects of climate change as an excuse for not taking urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Significantly, along with the science academies of the G8 nations, this statement’s signatories include Brazil, China and India who are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world. It is clear that developed countries must lead the way in cutting emissions, but developing countries must also contribute to the global effort to achieve overall cuts in emissions. The scientific evidence forcefully points to a need for a truly international effort. Make no mistake we have to act now. And the longer we procrastinate, the more difficult the task of tackling climate change becomes.
The current US policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS concluded in 1992 that, “Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now”, by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Getting the US onboard is critical because of the sheer amount of greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for. For example, the Royal Society calculated that the 13 per cent rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the US between 1990 and 2002 is already bigger than the overall cut achieved if all the other parties to the Kyoto Protocol reach their targets. President Bush has an opportunity at Gleneagles to signal that his administration will no longer ignore the scientific evidence and act to cut emissions.
[...] The G8 summit is an unprecedented moment in human history. Our leaders face a stark choice act now to tackle climate change or let future generations face the price of their inaction. Never before have we faced such a global threat. And if we do not begin effective action now it will be much harder to stop the runaway train as it continues to gather momentum.—Lord May of Oxford
The statement is signed by Academia Brasiliera de Ciências, Brazil; Royal Society of Canada, Canada; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Académie des Sciences, France; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Germany; Indian National Science Academy, India; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy; Science Council of Japan, Japan; Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Royal Society, UK; and the National Academy of Sciences, US.
The joint science academies’ statement