Show more ambition on climate change, researchers urge UK parties – Times Higher Education

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More than 400 climate researchers have signed an open letter urging the leaders of the UK’s political parties to pledge to an “ambitious programme” of policies to combat climate change, ahead of next month’s general election.
The 408 signatories of the letter, all of whom have published at least one journal paper on climate change and related subjects, are drawn from universities across the UK, and include 215 current and emeritus professors, and 36 national academy fellows.
The letter calls on political leaders to “pledge to an ambitious programme of climate policies that accelerate action, in the UK and across the world, both to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to increase resilience to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided. Without such a programme, the UK will be shirking its international responsibilities and will be losing the opportunity to promote prosperity and peace in the UK and around the globe.”
“Without such a pledge, we do not believe that your party deserves support in the forthcoming general election,” the letter concludes.
The researchers list actions that they say should be part of a more ambitious programme of action on climate change, including the publication and implementation of a “credible and legal strategy” for meeting the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, ending the development of new North Sea oil and gas fields, and increasing funding for climate change mitigation activities in developing countries.
“Any party leader who does not make stronger climate action a priority for the next five years and beyond will place the prosperity and well-being of the British people at severe risk. And it will be today’s children and future generations who will have to live longest with the consequences of a failure to act,” the letter warns.
The letter’s signatories include Phil Jones, emeritus professor of climate science at the University of East Anglia; Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser; and Sir Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London.
Other signatories include Frans Berkhout, assistant principal of King’s College; Mike Rands, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge and master of Darwin College, Cambridge; and Martin Siegert, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter.
The letter was coordinated by Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge’s Cambridge Zero initiative, and Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
Mr Ward said the letter sent “a loud and clear message about the need for greater climate ambition from the next government”.
“Climate change has largely been ignored by party leaders so far in this election campaign, demonstrating that they have failed to grasp just how much it is affecting lives and livelihoods in the UK,” he said.
“It is in the UK’s own interests to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, inclusive and resilient economy, to reduce our dependence on expensive and insecure fossil fuels, to protect our supplies of food and other goods and services against more extreme weather, and to stop growing climate change impacts from increasing the flow of migrants and refugees from affected countries.”
Professor Shuckburgh said polling “consistently shows strong support for politicians to act”.
“The climate clock is ticking loudly. Our party leaders need to listen and respond,” she said.
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