Thursday, March 09, 2006

Statement of Joint Science Academies

Here's the statement from the most prestigious scientific bodies in the world.

Joint science academies' statement: Global response to climate change

Climate change is real

There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system
as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now
strong evidence that significant global warming is
occurring . The evidence comes from direct measurements
of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean
temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in
average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes
to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that
most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed
to human activities (IPCC 2001) . This warming has already
led to changes in the Earth's climate.
The existence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is
vital to life on Earth – in their absence average
temperatures would be about 30 centigrade degrees lower
than they are today. But human activities are now causing
atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases –
including carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone,
and nitrous oxide – to rise well above pre-industrial levels.
Carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 ppm in
1750 to over 375 ppm today – higher than any previous
levels that can be reliably measured (i.e. in the last 420,000
years). Increasing greenhouse gases are causing
temperatures to rise; the Earth’s surface warmed by
approximately 0.6 centigrade degrees over the twentieth
century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) projected that the average global surface
temperatures will continue to increase to between 1.4
centigrade degrees and 5.8 centigrade degrees above 1990
levels, by 2100.

Reduce the causes of climate change

The scientific understanding of climate change is now
sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It
is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they
can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term
reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.
Action taken now to reduce significantly the build-up of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lessen the
magnitude and rate of climate change. As the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) recognises, a lack of full scientific certainty
about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for
delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable
cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with
the climate system.
As nations and economies develop over the next 25 years,
world primary energy demand is estimated to increase by
almost 60%. Fossil fuels, which are responsible for the
majority of carbon dioxide emissions produced by human
activities, provide valuable resources for many nations and are
projected to provide 85% of this demand (IEA 2004) .
Minimising the amount of this carbon dioxide reaching the
atmosphere presents a huge challenge. There are many
potentially cost-effective technological options that could
contribute to stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations.
These are at various stages of research and development.
However barriers to their broad deployment still need to be
Carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for many
decades. Even with possible lowered emission rates we will
be experiencing the impacts of climate change throughout
st the 21 century and beyond. Failure to implement
significant reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions
now, will make the job much harder in the future.

Prepare for the consequences of climate change

Major parts of the climate system respond slowly to
changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. Even if
greenhouse gas emissions were stabilised instantly at
today’s levels, the climate would still continue to change as
it adapts to the increased emission of recent decades.
Further changes in climate are therefore unavoidable.
Nations must prepare for them.
The projected changes in climate will have both beneficial
and adverse effects at the regional level, for example on
water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems and
human health. The larger and faster the changes in
climate, the more likely it is that adverse effects will
dominate. Increasing temperatures are likely to increase the
frequency and severity of weather events such as heat
waves and heavy rainfall. Increasing temperatures could
lead to large-scale effects such as melting of large ice
sheets (with major impacts on low-lying regions
throughout the world). The IPCC estimates that the
combined effects of ice melting and sea water expansion
from ocean warming are projected to cause the global
mean sea-level to rise by between 0.1 and 0.9 metres
between 1990 and 2100. In Bangladesh alone, a 0.5 metre
sea-level rise would place about 6 million people at risk
from flooding.
Developing nations that lack the infrastructure or resources
to respond to the impacts of climate change will be
particularly affected. It is clear that many of the world’s
poorest people are likely to suffer the most from climate
change. Long-term global efforts to create a more healthy,
prosperous and sustainable world may be severely hindered
by changes in the climate.
The task of devising and implementing strategies to adapt
to the consequences of climate change will require
worldwide collaborative inputs from a wide range of
experts, including physical and natural scientists, engineers,
social scientists, medical scientists, those in the humanities,
business leaders and economists.


We urge all nations, in the line with the UNFCCC
principles , to take prompt action to reduce the causes of
climate change, adapt to its impacts and ensure that the
issue is included in all relevant national and international
strategies. As national science academies, we commit to
working with governments to help develop and implement
the national and international response to the challenge of
climate change.
G8 nations have been responsible for much of the past
greenhouse gas emissions. As parties to the UNFCCC, G8
nations are committed to showing leadership in addressing
climate change and assisting developing nations to meet
the challenges of adaptation and mitigation.
We call on world leaders, including those meeting at the
Gleneagles G8 Summit in July 2005, to:

· 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
· Identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to
contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net
global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognise 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 recognising 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.
· Mobilise the science and technology community to
enhance research and development efforts, which can
better inform climate change decisions.

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