World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency

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The following is an edited, abbreviated version of the statement released in November 2019, and so far, signed by 13,273 scientists from 156 countries.
 
Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” We declare, clearly and unequivocally, that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
 
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. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity. Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature's reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth,” well beyond the control of humans. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.
 
To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. We suggest six critical and interrelated steps that governments and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change:
 
Energy - The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices, and replace fossil fuels with low carbon renewables and other cleaner sources of energy safe for people and the environment. We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground. We must swiftly use effective, fair schemes (such as carbon taxes) to steadily escalate carbon prices to restrain the use of fossil fuels.
 
Short-lived pollutants - We need to promptly reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black carbon (soot), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
 
Nature - We must protect and restore Earth’s ecosystems: phytoplankton, coral reefs, forests, savannas, grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, soils, mangroves, and sea grasses contribute greatly to sequestration of atmospheric CO2. We need to reforest where appropriate at enormous scales. Up to a third of emissions reductions needed by 2030 for the Paris agreement could be obtained with these natural climate solutions.
 
Food - Eating mostly plant-based foods while reducing the global consumption of animal products, especially livestock, can improve human health and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. We need to drastically reduce the enormous amount of food waste around the world.
 
Economy - Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere. Goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward supporting ecosystem and human wellbeing by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.
 
Population - Still increasing by roughly 80 million people per year, or 200,000 per day, we must stabilize and ideally gradually reduce the world population within a framework of policies that ensures social integrity, such as including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women.
 
 

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