Why do we need the climate oath?

The oath is designed for scientists, engineers and academics to demonstrate their commitment to speaking out about the scale of the threat shown by the scientific evidence, and the consequent speed and scope of necessary action - despite the often politically challenging conclusions that they lead to. In order to show leadership, signatories pledge to take action to reduce their own emissions and to lobby their professional associations to align themselves to pathways compliant with the Paris 1.5°C pathway. It is about both individual behaviour and system change.

Our concern is also that there has been self-censorship in the climate science community, with some things said in private that are not said in public. These include, for example, concerns about the practicality of some proposed technical solutions (e.g. rapid, large-scale implementation of bioenergy carbon capture and storage, or BECCS) and the need for stronger efforts in the policy and economic realm particularly related to behaviour change of the wealthier groups in society. We are concerned that not enough is being said in public about many climate scientists’ private worries.

The climate oath initiative stems from SGR’s report on Scientists Behaving Responsibly: Should science walk the talk on climate breakdown?, which highlighted the potential of scientists and engineers to act as role models for behaviour change and as voices calling for system change in their sectors, and the SGR report Irresponsible Science? on the environmental (and broader ethical) track records of the professional scientific and engineering associations.

Read on for more background information and FAQs. Or head here to sign.

 

Reports

Scientists behaving responsibly: should science walk the talk on climate breakdown?
This briefing examines the importance of behaviour change across society to help tackle the climate crisis, and the potential of scientists and engineers to act as role models for such change.
Andrew Simms with Stuart Parkinson; November 2019

Irresponsible Science? How the fossil fuel and arms corporations finance professional engineering and science organisations
Stuart Parkinson and Philip Wood; October 2019
 

Articles

Turning delusion into action – breaking the bias that supports a dangerous status quo
SGR’s Andrew Simms interviews one of the leading voices on climate science, Prof Kevin Anderson of the Universities of Manchester and Uppsala, about the responsibilities of scientists in the climate emergency. Responsible Science Journal, March 2020

Global heating and climate breakdown – completing the picture
Prof Bill McGuire, emeritus of University College London, argues that reports on mainstream climate science downplay the scale of the threats from sea-level rise, extreme heat, shutdown of the Gulf Stream, and increased seismic activity. 
Responsible Science Journal, March 2020

If you’re thinking about climate, talk about it too: combating societal denial
Prof Rebecca Willis, Lancaster University, writes about the challenge of overcoming social denial of the climate emergency. 
Responsible Science Journal, March 2020

Why I swapped UN negotiations for direct action
International climate change lawyer Farhana Yamin swapped negotiating rooms for street protest and decided to change her own behaviour. Here, she explains why she changed tactics. 
Responsible Science Journal, March 2020

Is your pension fund wrecking the planet?
Dr Emily Heath, Ethics4USS, appeals to academics and others to support the campaigns to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels and other unethical industries. 
Responsible Science Journal, March 2020

An alarmist’s guide to climate change
Feedbacks and tipping points are being dangerously downplayed in the climate debate, argues Professor Bill McGuire, University College London. It’s time for some healthy and realistic alarmism.
Responsible Science Journal, February 2019.
 

Presentations

Behaviour change: dealing with four key challenges
Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, SGR conference 'Scientists behaving responsibly: should science walk the talk on climate breakdown?', London; November 2019

He who pays the piper: universities, the oil and gas industry, and fracking
David Smythe, SGR conference 'Universities for sale?', London; November 2016

Investigating fossil fuel industry funding in academia
Maeve McClenaghan, SGR conference 'Universities for sale?', London; November 2016
 

Media coverage

Support a science oath for the climate
The Guardian; November 2020

Geologist blasts society's links with oil firms
BBC News; November 2019

Royal Society urged to ditch £16m fossil-fuel investment
Sunday Times; October 2019 (subscription only)
 

FAQs (PDF)


Add your name as a signatory

Sign the Science oath for the climate.