World’s chief scientists urge Cop26 attendees to step up low-carbon policies

Prior to the Cop26 climate summit, Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientist and president of national science academies from more than 20 countries, wrote to world leaders urging them to establish policies to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit global warming to 1.5C, and to make it easier for the Cop26 climate summit to take place.
The signatories called on governments to accelerate their efforts to develop low-carbon energy and other technologies. They also need to address the emissions from the major high-carbon sector of the economy.

Vallance, Britain's chief scientific advisor, stated that 1.5C was achievable and what the UK should be striving for. It is time to act now. We need a clear roadmap.

As world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss the largest climate conference since 2015 Paris Agreement, their intervention is meant to highlight scientific advice about the dangers facing the world if emissions continue to rise.

The findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the world's foremost authority on climate science) were published in August. They noted that global temperatures are already 1.09C warmer than pre-industrial times and that these impacts were being felt in heatwaves and excess rainfall, wildfires and flooding. These effects will only get worse with every fractional increase of warming, and all countries are vulnerable.

They called for immediate action to assist those most affected by the effects of climate change.

They stated that temperatures could still rise by 1.5C above preindustrial levels. However, it would require significant emissions reductions in the next 10 years and a long-term goal to net zero carbon. They wrote that it will require urgent, sustained and rapid action as well as significant behavioural, socioeconomic, and technological changes.

Vallance stated: This must be the decade for R&D. We must ensure that innovation and R&D are applied and scaled-up. This will require strong international collaboration in every sector.

All 38 signatories are chief scientists, presidents or holders of senior scientific advisory positions in their respective countries. These signatories represent both developed and developing nations, including the US and the EU, India and several African and South American states, as well as South Korea. Cathy Foley, Australia's chief scientist, has signed the agreement, while Scott Morrisons government was criticized for failing to implement net zero plans. Paulo Artaxo (professor of physics at So Paulo University), who has been long hostile to climate action, was another signatory.

However, scientists from Russia, China and Saudi Arabia were not included in the list. China's position, as the largest emitter in the world, will play a major role in Cop26's outcome. Russia and Saudi Arabia, both fossil fuel producers, have also disrupted Cop agreements.

Professor Nicole Grobert, Chair of the Group of Chief Scientist Advisors to European Commission, said: To reach carbon neutrality, innovation, low emission choices, and active participation are essential. Science can provide solutions to improve quality of life by ensuring a sustainable and fair decarbonisation.

Dr. Xavier Estico, the director general of Seychelles' National Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation, stated: History has shown us that science, technology, and innovation can bring about timely solutions to problems that seem beyond human reach. We can all learn from the past and work together to combat the most pressing challenge of our age: climate change.