The critical role of science in guiding UN climate negotiations
Governments first agreed to initiate a coordinated global response to climate change in 1992, in the face of mounting scientific evidence that human activities had caused global temperatures to rise, increasingly impacting natural ecosystems and humankind. They established the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) to ‘stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. Since then, the role of scientists in informing and guiding the UN climate change negotiations has been critically important — albeit at times controversial. The most recent report on holding global temperature rise to 1.5°C received a particularly contentious response within the UN decision-making body. In the face of an escalating climate crisis, governments must use the best available science to take rapid and proportionate action.