Top Environmental Scientists Sound a Call to Action

Earlier this week, top scientists released a paper urging governments to take restorative steps for the planet’s ecosystem. Faced with today’s challenges, “Society has no choice but to take dramatic action,” the authors write. They note the important role that energy –- and particularly reliance on fossil fuel — plays in climate change, biodiversity loss and damage to the environment.

The paper integrates insights from 20 historical recipients of the Blue Planet Prize, which is awarded by the Asahi Glass Foundation for scientific strides in solving global environmental problems. Two of the report’s authors, José Goldemberg and Amory Lovins, are on the Great Energy Challenge advisory board.

Key recommendations in Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act include:

  • Replace GDP as a measure of wealth with metrics for natural, built, human and social capital — and how they intersect.
  • Eliminate subsidies in sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture that create environmental and social costs, which currently go unpaid.
  • Tackle overconsumption in high-income countries, and address population pressure by empowering women, improving education and making contraception accessible to all.
  • Transform decision-making processes to empower marginalized groups, and integrate economic, social and environmental policies instead of having them compete.
  • Conserve and value biodiversity and ecosystem services, and create markets for them that can form the basis of green economies.
  • Invest in knowledge — both in creating and in sharing it — through research and training that will enable governments, business, and society at large to understand and move towards a sustainable future.

The paper concludes, “Governments, the private sector, voluntary and civil society at large all have key roles to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy, adaptation to climate change and a more sustainable use of ecosystems … Failure to act will impoverish current and future generations.”

Collecting and summarizing insights from a number of the world’s top scientists was no small feat. Lovins said of the effort, “The Blue Planet Prize laureates are distinguished, diverse, knowledgeable, and opinionated, so Sir Robert Watson (formerly the excellent head of the IPCC) took on a formidable task when he undertook a quick synthesis of their recommendations for the world. As always, he rose to this worthy challenge.”

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