Science & Environment

'Save the planet', science leaders urge G8 governments

Earth's horizon
Image caption Scientists are calling on leaders to help manage the environment for the benefit of future generations

Leaders of the global science community have issued joint statements to world leaders meeting at the G8 summit later this month in the US.

National science academies from 15 countries have called on the leading industrialised economies to pay greater heed to science and technology.

The academies include those from the US, China, India and the UK.

The organisations agreed three statements on tackling Earth's most pressing problems.

According to Dr Michael Clegg of the US National Academy of Sciences: "In the long term, the pressing concerns are managing the environment in a way that assures that future generations have a quality of life that's at least as equivalent to the quality of life we enjoy today."

As the host G8 nation, the US national academy has taken the lead this year, working with counterparts to draw up a co-ordinated message for the summit.

For the past seven years, science academies representing countries that are attending the summit have issued statements to inform delegates of vital science and technology matters.

This year, they are targeting leaders attending not just the G8 summit but also the G20, the Rio+20 environmental summit, and other important events.

'Influential' message

In past G8 summits, the views of the collective academies have been influential. World leaders including Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have previously met with representatives of the global science community and the text from their statements has ended up in the final summit communiques.

"I think most governments pay attention to science," says Dr Clegg

"The fact we have a consensus of a great diversity of countries is an indication of the importance of priorities that we as leaders of the global science community place on these issues".

Image caption The message from the global science community is taken seriously at the G8 summit

The three so-called "G-Science" statements say that priority should be given to finding ways of finding a coherent way of simultaneously meeting water and energy needs, building resilience to natural disasters and developing better ways of measuring greenhouse gas emissions in order to see if individual countries are meeting their international obligations to reduce emissions.

The first G-Science statement called on leaders to consider water and energy as closely linked issues. Otherwise, it says, there will be shortages of both. The statement recommends that governments pursue policies that integrate the two, emphasise conservation and encourage regional and global cooperation.

The second statement says more can be done to minimise the impact of major international disasters, such as a tsunami or nuclear accident. In addition to regular risk surveillance, the G-Science statement recommends building "resilience" to catastrophic events by, for example, improving public health systems.

The third statement calls for more accurate and standardised methods to estimate human and natural sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. It recommends that all countries produce annual reports of their greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. The academies also call for greater international cooperation to share new technologies and scientific data.

The statements have been signed by the leaders of the national science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the US.

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