United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Science & Technology

Statement by Scientific and Technological Communities
Thank you Mr Chairperson.
I am speaking as Chair of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research
Programme.
We are glad to hear of the recognition by the panel that climate change is a "here and now" issue
and not just and issue for the future.
The scientific evidence and understanding makes it clear there are two major challenges society
must confront urgently.
The first of these is the urgent need to mitigate to prevent the most severe impacts of climate
change. Stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentration requires future greenhouse gas emissions
to be only a fraction of today?s levels. We are approaching a number of thresholds which are
likely to be considered dangerous. For example, we are dangerously close to reaching the
threshold, or tipping point, where ongoing and essentially complete and irreversible melting of
the Greenland ice sheet is inevitable. While this may take centuries it will eventually lead to a
sea level rise, especially when combined with ongoing ocean thermal expansion and
contributions from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will be measured in metres. We must act
soon if we are to avoid this and other potential calamities.
There are many options available for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is not a matter of
which of these options is most effective. Given the magnitude and urgency of the task we will
need to employ all options.
The second major challenge is how to adapt to ongoing climate change. Even if we do manage
to reduce emissions significantly, there will be ongoing climate change. The impacts of climate
change are already being felt and they will extend centuries into the future. Society needs to
understand and predict climate change at the global, regional and local level if it is to effectively
adapt to climate change. We have a reasonable understanding of climate change at the global
level but there is an ongoing challenge to provide better understanding and predictions at the
regional level to inform and underpin sound adaptation policies. Society must plan for a
changing climate, institute policies that minimise the impacts of climate change, avoid disasters
and exploit opportunities.
We strongly agree with Sir Gordon Conway that partnerships are essential to meeting both of
these challenges. These partnerships must include the scientific community, including the World
Climate Research Programme and other global environmental change programmes, governments,
business and the broader public community.
thank you Mr Chairperson.