WARSAW COMMUNIQUÉ ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN EUROPE
Attendees of the European Climate Conference in Warsaw, including Prof Jürgen Renn of the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, jointly drafted the following communiqué. The European Climate Conference was co-organized by the Polish Academy of Sciences and Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences
The inaugural European Climate Conference has convened 90 scientists from 45 countries across Europe and Central Asia to assess climate change and the progress towards reaching climate neutrality. The assembled scientists hereby present the ensuing communiqué on this day, 23rd May 2023.
- Climate change is happening, and planet Earth is in the age of the Anthropocene. Global warming and its consequences are caused by human activities, and this is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. Climate change impacts lives, businesses, settlements, and ecosystems. No individual and no planetary component remains unaffected.
- The extreme manifestations of climate change include: heat waves, droughts, forest fires, heavy rain, floods, severe storms and cyclones. Additionally: changing seasonality, longer atmospheric pressure blocks, loss of glaciers and sea ice, sea level rise, ocean acidification and warming, and changes in ocean circulation. All these are highly likely to amplify by 2050.
- The principal ecological manifestations are aggravated by climate change, but are primarily driven by deficient land, soil and water management. These include: loss of biodiversity, loss of ecosystem functions and services, soil degradation and desertification, and deterioration of freshwater resources.
- The range of risks and the magnitude of transformations must be considered systemically and sequentially (phasing-in-phasing-out). Transformations need to be just, both within and among societies. The impetus for transformation is still not ambitious enough. We need to act faster and more comprehensively. Handling climate change requires harmonising mitigation and adaptation strategies, always in a cross-sectoral approach.
- For energy and industry, the following measures are a priority: (a) accelerate the decarbonisation of energy production mainly through renewables, considering wide-scale electrification, cost and consumption efficiency, and negative emission solutions; (b) develop the Super Smart Grid (Europe, Central Asia, North Africa), combining engineering and market solutions to manage the variability of electricity from renewables with AI-based grid management; (c) invest in large-scale, long-term electricity storage (e.g. chemical storage through hydrogen); (d) support innovative approaches to de-fossilise industry and enable circular and low-carbon economy.
- For biodiversity and ecosystems, the following measures are a priority: (a) significantly limit the causes of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, especially deforestation, intensive agriculture (monocultures and overuse of pesticides) as well as overfishing, pollution, landscape fragmentation and land use conflicts; (b) opt for nature-based solutions to support climate mitigation and adaptation of species (e.g. by increasing genetic diversity); (c) implement the 2022 Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
- For agriculture and water, the following measures are a priority: (a) avoid soil degradation and carry out soil restoration; (b) integrate the management of land, soil and water, including water conservation, efficient irrigation and renaturation, and climate stress-resilient crops and livestock species; (c) limit resource-consuming agricultural production, especially for livestock (also to reduce methane emissions), and minimise food loss and food waste.
- For infrastructure and mobility, the following measures are a priority: (a) follow new principles of integrated, resilient and responsive infrastructure planning, by connecting it to smart grids, resource-efficient mobility development, and low-carbon footprint building; (b) invest in electric mobility of people and freight, and simultaneously expand public transport; (c) consider climate risk management in business development and industrial policy, and in public administration and civil defence.
- The regional diversity of climate (change) should receive more attention and be used as a strength in mitigation and adaptation actions. Local and regional knowledge should be translated into national- and continental-level action for maximum effect. Using inherent potentials in Europe and the neighbouring Central Asia and North Africa, particularly for climate-neutral energy and food systems, should be prioritised and done in a fair, cooperative manner.
- Policies and market-based instruments – especially game-changer, such as the European Green Deal, national green investment packages and national or supranational CO2 pricing – should never work against each other. Climate and biodiversity policies should not be decoupled. Regulations should be used wisely to stimulate and scale technological and social innovations to achieve transformation. Research-based and transparent communication between politicians, citizens and scientists should become the norm to increase acceptance and reduce negativism and denialism. Generational equity and participative policymaking should be a matter of course.
The scientists participating in the inaugural European Climate Conference, representing 45 European countries, acknowledge that evidence-based scientific advice should be the basis for political and personal decisions for climate neutrality, and that scientists should engage more to increase climate change literacy of their fellow citizens. Effective actions for climate neutrality mean deep transformations of most aspects of the economy, the energy system, international markets, and the global cooperation framework. These measures should harmonise mitigation and adaptation strategies, and resolve transnational, national and regional trade-offs. Regional climate change and the global-local relationship should be more in the focus. Neither science, nor politics, nor collective civil action, nor education, nor public or private investments alone are enough. The window of opportunity for reaching the Paris Agreement goal is closing, and this leaves very few realistic options open.
The primary recommendation is to accelerate mitigation measures aligned with the Paris framework, while simultaneously deploying adaption measures. Regulation and financial instruments, such as CO2 pricing, should be used to stimulate climate neutrality. This also includes incentives for openness toward green technologies, for rigorous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and for counteracting environmental pollution and ecosystem degradation, especially deforestation and biodiversity loss. Europe and Central Asia should make better use of their inherent potential to manage climate change: renewables, connectivity, market economy, people, knowledge, and innovations. Let us embrace these far-reaching potentials to accelerate the pace of transformation towards a climate-neutral future for our continent and for our planet.