In late October, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) issued a statement entitled ‘Facing critical decisions on climate change in 2015’. EASAC’s first aim in issuing its statement is to provide the scientific background to issues about which there are misconceptions in the media, such as an alleged ‘hiatus’ in global warming.
Second, EASAC wishes to highlight some recent science that has improved our understanding of the pace at which the climate is changing, and third, it wishes to emphasise issues of particular importance to European Union policymakers.
Based on the most recent evidence, EASAC concludes that climate model predictions are in some respects (particularly the cryosphere) overly conservative about the pace at which climate change is proceeding. According to EASAC, this emphasises the urgent need to produce an agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris (COP21) that will limit warming to below the 2 °C target. An agreement of this kind would have major implications for the use of fossil fuels in the decades ahead: to have a 50% chance of limiting warming to 2 °C, current reserves should remain largely unused.
EASAC notes that the European Union can play a leading role in this effort, as it has set itself a target of reducing emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels. EASAC therefore recommends that for COP21, the EU should:
- negotiate energetically for an agreement that is capable of reducing emissions sufficient to limit global warming to less than 2 °C
- strengthen its leading position by implementing its commitment to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020
- emphasise the importance of parallel efforts to increase resilience to the risks posed by unavoidable climate change.
The full report can be found on the EASAC website (pdf).
The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) is an alliance between the national academies of EU member states. Its members work together to provide independent, evidence-based advice to European policy-makers on a wide range of science-related topics. EASAC thus ensures that science plays a greater role in EU policy-making.