Open Science Conference: We need dramatic climate action to meet unprecedented challenges

23 October 2023

Climate change impacts are becoming increasingly severe, posing unprecedented challenges. Dramatic climate action is needed to limit global warming, requiring unprecedented societal transformations to sustain the future of life on Earth, a major international scientific conference was told today.

More than 1,400 scientists, politicians, policy-makers, intergovernmental agencies and Non Governmental Organizations are participating in the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Open Science Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

The five-day hybrid event will hear dozens of presentations from the world’s leading experts on issues including: rapid and/or irreversible changes in the climate system; impacts on food security and water availability; urban health; the carbon and water cycles; global energy budget; regional climate change; global and regional monsoons; extreme events; climate interventions; climate services, models and predictions and more.

“This once-in-a-decade event comes at an extraordinarily critical time in the history of Planet Earth, where the impacts of climate change are being felt every day around the world, in the oceans and on the land, from the Arctic to the Antarctic,” said conference co-chair Helen Cleugh.

For more than four decades, the WCRP has coordinated research which unequivocally concludes that humans are changing the Earth’s climate. Through advances in climate science, we can now project plausible future climates and the consequences, said Prof. Cleugh.

People standing in conference hall“Society must cope with ongoing changes and their impacts: the emergence of complex risks, including drought, heavy rain and flooding, heatwaves, extreme fire weather, other weather and climate extremes often occurring at the same time,” said Detlef Stammer, the other co-chair.

The reasons for this year’s unprecedented spikes in temperature increases in the atmosphere and the ocean are still being investigated. But they illustrate the complexity and connectivity of the climate system, and the urgent need for find sustainable solutions based on understanding of the entire Earth system, he said.

“A giant leap is required by societies embarking on a new path to a sustainable world. It requires that we fundamentally reconfigure our economies, energy, food and health systems so that they work for both people and the planet,” said Prof. Stammer.

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