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International scientific advisors call for science and innovation to be at the centre of action on climate change

On the eve of COP26, which begins in Glasgow on 31 October, scientific advisors from around the world jointly call for a rapid scale-up and implementation of science-based innovations to curb warming.

This article is part of the ISC’s Transform21 series, which features resources from our network of scientists and change-makers to help inform the urgent transformations needed to achieve climate and biodiversity goals.

In a statement released by the UK Government Office for Science, senior scientific advisors from around the world, including members of the ISC’s Governing Board, and network of affliated bodies and committees, as well as representatives of the ISC Membership, call for ambitious, science-based strategies to ‘keep the 1.5°C temperature goal alive’. ISC President Peter Gluckman has signed the statement on behalf of the Council.

‘I hope that leaders will really take notice of what needs to be done now’, said UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, introducing the statement:

We spoke to signatories of the declaration to find out more about the priorities in their regions:

Xavier Estico, who’s a Member of the ISC’s Small Island Developing States Liaison Committee, said:

As a signatory to the statement and part of the Small Island Developing States Liaison Committee, the statement relates to priorities of the Seychelles and other Small Island Developing States in the following aspects:

1.     First and foremost, it gives SIDS a more optimistic view of the future; stating that the latest science tells us it is still possible to limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century. This gives SIDS a window of opportunity to mitigate and adapt to the changes, which is key to their survival. Some projections are indicating that a number of SIDS will probably disappear or partially disappear by 2050 due to the rate of sea level rise as a result of climate change.

2.     The fact that the statement calls for global collaboration supported by Science, Technology and Innovation in climate change mitigation and adaptation: Seychelles and other SIDS with vulnerabilities due to climate change can receive the necessary attention and consideration for sustainable socio-economic development.

In anticipation, regional, international and global scientific collaboration will help SIDS boost their Science, Technology and Innovation institutional capabilities to develop suitable mitigation and adaptation options to climate change that are relevant to their geographical, demographic, social and economic particularities.

Ekanem I. Braide, President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, said:

“Science and innovation are key to tackling climate change. Scientists have developed innovative strategies for reduction of demands for energy in all sectors as well as improvement of efficiency of energy utilization.

The Nigerian Academy of Science has, over the years, promoted research on development of mitigation and adaptive technologies related to climate change. Renewable energy options have been developed to replace high carbon fossil fuels in Nigeria. Unfortunately, many Nigerians cannot afford these products so there is need for more research to produce affordable options.

Above all, there is an urgent need to conduct massive community engagement and risk communication so communities understand and own the problem of climate change.”

[Read the full interview with Ekanem I. Braide here]

And Mark W.J. Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said:

Research and Innovation will be key to achieving our climate action and sustainability goals. Ireland has enshrined its carbon reduction targets in law and will publish its first carbon budget. Science Foundation Ireland will launch a major national grand challenges programme to stimulate research, innovation and rapid deployment in the areas of climate, sustainability and digital transformation. This is supported by approx 75 million euros of new funding from Ireland’s EU Economic  Recovery Programme.

We want to collaborate and co-fund these challenges with companies, philanthropy and international funders. The need for progress is clear, but equally the opportunities to create new technologies and businesses are huge.”

You can read the full statement here, and hear more from signatories including Ekanem Braide and Xavier Estico in a video released by the UK Government Office for Science.

Mitigating climate change at the same time as delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require long-term support and increased investment for science and innovation. But as the new statement by senior scientific advisors makes clear, science-based solutions do exist, and the global research community stands ready to work with policy-makers, businesses and communities in order to develop strategies for rapid action for long-term change.

For ideas on how science, along with science funders, policy-makers, civil society and the private sector, can increase the impact of science towards achieving the SDGs and rise to the occasion of acting effectively in the face of urgent and existential risks to humanity, see the ISC’s recently published report, Unleashing Science: Delivering Missions for Sustainability.

Cover of the publication Unleashing Science

Unleashing Science: Delivering Missions for Sustainability

International Science Council, 2021.

DOI: 10.24948/2021.04

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash.

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