MEDIA ADVISORY | Leading International Climate Scientists call on World Leaders for Global Emissions Peak by 2020



Leading International Climate Scientists call on World Leaders for

Global Emissions Peak by 2020

Action by scientists including Canadian Climatologist Gordon McBean underscores urgency of national progress and global negotiations

07/07/09 – A group of the world’s top climate scientists today called on the leaders of the world’s major economies to adopt strong measures to address climate change, including a peak in global emissions before 2020.

In a letter addressed to Ministers and Heads of State attending this week’s G8 summit and Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy, the climate scientists, including several senior government climate science advisors, make specific requests for policy action and warn that failure to reduce emissions presents “unacceptable risks.”

The scientists are calling for action from world leaders whose nations represent around 70% of global carbon abatement potential. Among other specific requests, the scientists underscore the importance of committing to a global emissions peak by 2020 and beginning significant reductions in harmful greenhouse gases well before 2020.

“This is a very important moment in the run up to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, aimed at achieving a global agreement”, said Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, one of the signatories of an open letter to Major Economy leaders published today. “Scientists worldwide are calling on the leaders of the major economies to send a signal to rest of the world that those countries with the highest emissions, those that are also in the best position to make the greatest contributions to reducing the risk, are ready to combat the threat posed by climate change. These countries should make clear that they are prepared to seize the opportunity to promote low–carbon economic growth and prosperity at home and abroad.”

The letter makes five specific requests of major economy leaders. The requests lay out precise targets for emissions reductions, and call for commitments and actions by both developed and developing countries. The letter emphasizes the importance of recognizing the developed world’s responsibility for historic emissions, and calls for financial support for developing nations to undertake needed actions.

According to the signatories, the outcome of the Major Economies Forum meeting on July 9 should be judged on these five points.

A copy of the letter and corresponding background information is attached.

For further information and questions, please contact:

Tom Brookes

European Climate Foundation


Telephone: +32 2 894 9310

Mobile: +32 476 777 779

On July 9th, the leaders of seventeen of the world’s largest economies will meet in L’Aquila, Italy at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).

As scientists from the MEF countries, we come together to call on our government leaders to recognize both the unacceptable risks that climate change creates for our societies, and the unprecedented opportunities a clean energy, low-carbon transition creates for our economies.

Specifically, we ask the leaders to take five steps in L’Aquila that will support a successful outcome in the global climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, and start the world forward on the path to low-carbon prosperity:

1. Recognize that present global warming of 0.8° C above pre-industrial levels is already having a significant impact, and that warming exceeding 2° C predicted for later this century would create great risks and have irreversible consequences

2. Commit to peak global greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2020 and reduce them by at least 50% relative to 1990 levels by 2050

3. For developed countries, commit to emissions reductions of at least 80% relative to 1990 by 2050 with appropriate intermediate targets set in time for Copenhagen

4. For developing countries, commit by Copenhagen to significant gains in energy efficiency, reductions in carbon intensity, and cuts in non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades; this should be designed to support sustainable development and to lead to substantial reduction from business-as-usual emissions

5. Recognize that the impacts of existing changes in climate are primarily due to past emissions by developed nations, and that unless the burden of poverty in developing nations is alleviated by significant financial support for mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of deforestation, the ability of developing countries to pursue sustainable development is likely to diminish, to the economic and environmental detriment of all

Limiting climate change and providing clean, secure sources of energy will ensure long-term sustainability and well being to all countries. The world is looking to the MEF leaders to act on this challenge and to seize this immense opportunity. The time for bold leadership is now.

Yours respectfully,

Kamal Bawa,

Ph.D. Founder & President,

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment Distinguished Professor of Biology,

University of Massachusetts India and United States

Robert W. Corell, Ph.D.

Senior Policy Fellow

American Meteorological Society

United States

Robert Costanza,

Ph.D. Director,

Gund Institute for Ecological Economics Professor of Ecological Economics,

Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources,

The University of Vermont United States

Sir John Houghton,

Ph.D. Honorary Scientist,

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research,

UK Meteorological Office

United Kingdom

Thomas E. Lovejoy,

Ph.D. Biodiversity Chair,

Heinz Center for Science,

Economics, and Environment United States

Michael MacCracken,

Ph.D. Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs,

Climate Institute United States

Michael E. Mann, Ph.D. Director,

The Earth System Science Center Professor of Meteorology,

The Pennsylvania State University United States

Gordon McBean,

Ph.D. Fellow, Royal Society of Canada Director and Professor of Policy Studies,

Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction The University of Western Ontario Canada

James J. McCarthy,

Ph.D. Chair of the Board,

American Association for the Advancement of Science Professor of Oceanography,

Harvard University United States

Anthony J. McMichael,

Ph.D. Professor,

National Center for Epidemiology & Population Health

The Australian National University Australia

Mario Molina, Ph.D.

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

President, Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment


Shuzo Nishioka, Ph.D.

Senior Visiting Researcher and former Executive Director, National Institute for Environmental Studies

Research Advisor, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies


Michael Oppenheimer,

Ph.D. Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs,

Princeton University United States

Jyoti Parikh,

Ph.D. Executive Director,

Integrated Research and Action for Development Member,

Prime Minister Singh’s Advisory Council for Climate Change


Kirit Parikh, Ph.D.

Chairman, Integrated Research and Action for Development Founding Director,

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research Former Member,

Planning Commission


Martin Parry,

Ph.D Co-Chair, IPCC WGII 2007 Professor,

Grantham Institute and Centre for Environmental Policy,

Imperial College London United Kingdom

Barrie Pittock, Ph.D.

Former Head, Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization,

Climate Impacts Group


Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D. Head of Earth Systems Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University

Member, Academia Europaea Member, German Advisory Council on Global Change Germany


Eric Rignot, Ph.D. Professor, Earth System Science, University of California

Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Adjunct Researcher, Centro de Estudios Cientificos Chile and United States

Henning Rodhe, Ph.D. Professor, Chemical Meteorology, Stockholm University Member, Academia Europaea Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Sweden

Steven W. Running, Ph.D. Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group Regents Professor of Ecology, University of Montana United States

Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego United States

Warren M. Washington, Ph.D. Senior Scientist and Head of Climate Change Research, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

United States

Final Version Ad Text for Scientist MEF Letter Final.pdf

ECF G8 – MEF Letter Final Release-2.pdf


~ by Cory Morningstar on July 8, 2009.

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