The President of the Republic of Croatia
The Government of the Republic of Croatia
The Croatian Parliament
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy
A PLEA FOR SYSTEMATIC CLIMATE ACTION
Prompted by the reports of the International Panel on Climate Change, especially the last report, published in November 2018, as well as by the goals of the Paris climate Agreement, by the European Parliament Resolution on climate emergency at the level of the European Union, by the warning signed by over 11,000 scientists, 19 of whom are Croatian scientists, and also by remarkably resolute policies aimed at mitigating climate change and adapting to it, policies implemented in many EU Member States as well as globally; prompted by the global climate movement embodied in numerous initiatives, associations and activities, especially the international high-school students’ campaigns such as School Strike for Climate, Fridays for Future and others, some of which have taken root in Croatia, we appeal to you to engage in a concerted effort to face up to the climate crisis. As scientists and citizens concerned over increasingly evident consequences of climate change, both globally and locally, concerned over the lack of systematic public debate on climate in Croatia, and bearing in mind the findings from all areas of science and various disciplines concerning the issue of climate change, its causes, consequences, expectations and prospects, we the signees of this plea, scientists and researchers from various academic disciplines, employed in the Republic of Croatia or originating from it, address this plea at the general public, the responsible parties and the decision makers.
In its last special report in November 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that preventing irreversible climate change, the kind that jeopardized the survival of mankind on Earth, required the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 45% by year 2030 and their complete dismissal by 2050.
Climate change, which doubtless requires to be referred to by a more precise though less technical term – climate crisis – is a reality of the modern world and at the same time the most serious crisis that humanity as such has ever encountered. Faced with what has become a galloping climate crisis and its consequences, we find it fully warranted to call for a state of emergency to be declared. Over the course of the last several decades various consequences of climate change have been recorded, such as the following (cited from the 2013 and 2018 IPCC reports): record highs in the average global temperature, increasingly common and intense heat waves in the summer as well as cold and precipitation extremes in the winter, permafrost instability, loss of glaciers as important fresh water reservoirs, rise in global sea levels, coral bleaching, extensive forest fires, extended dry periods, extensive flooding and increasingly common and intense droughts. This has resulted in major environmental change, causing growing problems in food production, forced migration and decrease in biodiversity, which is reflected in galloping extinction or species relocation, most evident in the appearance of tropical species in the temperate climate zone. In view of all these changes, complacent refusal of the reality of climate crisis can no longer be considered to have any rational grounding.
At the same time, we are witness to movements aimed at taking action, which may be considered the start of a global environmental revolution, a new and unprecedented moment in human history.
One of the main demands of these movements is the plea for institutions to take heed of what scientists are saying. It may well be argued that scientists are often modest when they publicly communicate their findings and the implications of these findings, which may be attributed to their strict adherence to the rules of the scientific method. However, as climate scientist James Hansen has pointed out: “Caution is a commendable quality, but right now we might consider controlling our restraint as it leads us to a cataclysmic future.“ One of the common means of refraining from resolute systematic action has been the view that climate change constitutes a problem but not a crisis.
It is clear that the terms “climate crisis“ or “state of emergency“ are not technical terms of the kind that we would use in science communication. However, we have run out of excuses for trying to avoid using these unpleasant but clear and straightforward terms. For this reason we should quit with the pernicious practise of using the terminology referring to climate change and its mitigation as a purely cosmetic appendage to products, projects, policies, strategies, declarations and other political instruments. Climate terminology has its clear and unambiguous content, rooted in scientific fact, and needs to be used accordingly.
In relation to the climate crisis, the central demand that we as scientists put forward is that decisions be made based on scientifically verified facts.
On the basis of available scientifically grounded facts, the findings of experimental measuring, field observation and theoretical modelling, published in thousands of internationally reviewed scientific publications, we the signee scientists of this plea claim with full responsibility that we are witnessing a crisis, a state of emergency, and by the scientific authority vested in us we appeal to the relevant institutions to take appropriate and ambitious measures that would ensure a systematic and comprehensive way of facing up to this emergency situation.
We therefore demand:
- that a state of climate emergency be declared at the level of the Republic of Croatia, based on similar decisions made at the level of the EU and a number of other states;
- that scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines publishing reviewed scientific research on climate change, its implications and/or mitigation be included in devising policies related to climate change;
- that policies be devised and implemented with a view to creating more sustainable socio-economic models than what we have at present;
- that systematic and active measures be taken at all levels aimed at raising the general public’s awareness of the climate crisis in its entire complexity, which includes the designing of ambitious educational topics related to sustainable development and their inclusion into school curricula;
- that a program for systematic transition to sustainable energy be implemented as soon as possible, with the final aim to completely abandon the projects for extracting and exploiting fossil fuel, which involves the appropriate retraining and reskilling of workers;
- that low-carbon jobs and lifestyles, as well as the necessary infrastructure, be acknowledged and encouraged;
- that especially vulnerable social groups be identified and that action be taken to minimize their vulnerability as well as the damage already suffered;
- that local production, distribution and trade be encouraged, the kind that does not involve transport of locally available goods from distant countries;
- that sustainable, low-carbon transport solutions be encouraged, together with the development of necessary infrastructure;
- that sustainable technological solutions be implemented in all aspects of life, based on comparative life-cycle assessments (LCA);
- that significant support be given to ambitious scientific research aimed at meeting the challenges of the climate crisis.
The terrible reality of the climate crisis is a test for our civilisation as a whole, a wake-up call, but also a singular opportunity for global transformation into a sustainable society. In order to reach these goals, mankind needs to act together. A reasonable start is to declare a state of climate emergency, but the key step is to systematically act accordingly.
This is a demand which has zero tolerance for false excuses by so-called small countries.
This is a demand that requires concerted efforts and synergy from all walks of life.
Finally, this is a demand in which there is no place for any sort of discrimination; on the contrary, it requires solidarity between generations, races, religions, states, denominations of any kind, as well as solidarity towards other living creatures.
As a last remark, we point out that the signees of this document are willing to engage and participate in all forms of activity undertaken by relevant institutions with a view to meeting the challenges of the climate emergency.