“Moral obligation”: Scientists declare global climate emergency

More than 11,000 scientists have declared the world faces a climate emergency, while Australia has been named as among the many countries not doing enough to limit warming.

Nov 06, 2019, updated Nov 06, 2019
Photo: supplied

Photo: supplied

The declaration, signed by scientists from 153 countries, is based on more than four decades of data examining energy use, surface temperature, population growth, land clearing, deforestation, polar ice mass, fertility rates, gross domestic product and carbon emissions.

They say that “clearly and unequivocally”, Earth faces a climate emergency.

University of Sydney environmental sciences lecturer Thomas Newsome was one of the lead authors on the climate declaration paper published in BioScience on Wednesday.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” he said.

“From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”

The paper says while most public discussions focus on global surface temperature, this is an inadequate measure to capture the real dangers that come from climate change.

It says policymakers should look at the full range of human activities that link to increased emissions.

“The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle,” the paper states.

“The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical (greenhouse gas) emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions.

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“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament.”

A separate report published on Wednesday by the nonprofit Universal Ecological Fund says the vast majority of country pledges under the Paris agreement – including that from Australia – are inadequate to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Australia’s commitment to cut emissions by 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 was among those judged to be only partially sufficient.

Nearly three-quarters of the pledges – including those from major polluters China, the United States and India – were deemed insufficient.

The pair of reports will add to pressure on countries to increase their ambitions for action when they attend the annual United Nations climate conference in Spain in early December.

The COP25 conference was to have been held in Chile, but it pulled out as host due to violent unrest among its people.


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