‘Robust, accessible science is vital to understand, predict and plan for climate change’
By the Climate Centre
The second Open Science Conference of the World Climate Research Programme ended Friday in Rwanda with what the WMO called an overriding message that a narrow window of opportunity for climate action is closing fast, with climate change impacts now felt “everywhere every day”.
At least 1,400 scientists, politicians, policy-makers and representatives of civil society threw their weight behind the message, a WMO statement said.
Conference co-chair Detlef Stammer of the University of Hamburg concluded that: “Robust, relevant and accessible climate science is vital to understand, predict, and plan for the impacts of climate change.
“This conference has highlighted the huge progress that has been made and the gaps that remain. And above all it has shown the imperative of transforming this science into policy.”
The conference was hosted by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority – the first time it has been held in Africa, where the IFRC says climate-related events and the number of people affected have risen dramatically over the past 20 years.
“In Rwanda we are victims of climate change. Last May we had floods that killed more than 130 people in one night,” Environment Minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya told delegates. “Our policy should be a science-based policy, informed by research.”
‘…the scientific community should do more to make its voice heard, and make advances in forecasting and technology widely accessible’
Africa is experiencing higher temperatures, heatwaves, heavy rains, floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged droughts, desertification and stronger cyclones, the WMO says, with “with serious health and economic implications involving displacement, migration, water shortages and food crises.”
Commenting last month on the Africa Climate Summit 2023 last month, IFRC Regional Director Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein said: “We cannot allow lives to be lost in predictable disasters. Early warning systems with early action are the most effective and dignified way to prevent an extreme-weather event from causing a humanitarian crisis – especially for the most vulnerable and remote communities.”
Many scientists at the once-a-decade conference – first held in 2011 – voiced frustration that despite scientific advice and international agreements over many years, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.
The conference outcomes are being summarized in a formal declaration designed to inform COP28 in Dubai later this year.
This will call for global action now on climate, and for a big increase in multilateral investment in climate science and services, the WMO said.
The declaration will argue that the scientific community should do more to make its voice heard, and to make sure that the fruits of advances in forecasting and technology are more widely accessible.
The Red Cross Red Crescent was not represented in person at the conference.
At last week’s Open Science Conference in Kigali, Innocent Gibbon Masukwedza of Boston’s Tufts University presented his research on the rising risk of extreme events in locations in five US states selected by the American Red Cross. It concluded that intervals were significantly shortening between extreme events still considered rare, emphasizing “the importance of local climate monitoring, adaptation strategies and proactive climate action”. (Photo: Tufts)