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.

Please also consider signing up to the Fair Lifestyle Targets, which are open to both those working in climate and the public.



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


Elsevier is still enabling high-carbon emitters
Academic publisher’s response to SGR/UCS petition on climate pledges falls short.
Responsible Science blog, September 2023

Jetting off to the sun? The adverts are selling you a ticket to climate disaster
Airlines have missed 98% of their previous environmental targets yet they keep urging more people to fly. Andrew Simms, SGR, discusses the industry's contradictions and how these can be tackled.
Responsible Science blog, August 2023

How big are global military carbon emissions?
Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, summarises the latest research on what is – and isn’t – known about the size of global military carbon emissions.
Responsible Science Journal, July 2023

The great hybrid hoax
Anna Jonsson and Gunnar Lind, New Weather Sweden, explain how the auto industry exaggerated the environmental benefits of hybrid cars – and how this was challenged.
Responsible Science Journal, May 2023

Getting real: what would serious climate action look like?
Prof Kevin Anderson, Manchester University, summarises the action necessary if governments and societies were really committed to keeping global temperature change close to 1.5°C - and how there would be wider benefits too.
Responsible Science Journal, March 2023

Small Modular Reactors: the last-chance saloon for the nuclear industry?
Prof Steve Thomas, Greenwich University, critically assesses the current enthusiasm for Small Modular Reactors in the UK and elsewhere. Will they help in the struggle against climate change, or will they sound the death knell for nuclear fission in the power sector?
Responsible Science Journal, March 2023

To scare or not to scare? Is a message of fear more effective than a message of hope?
Dr Jan Maskell, SGR, summarises the academic evidence on one of the key debates in climate communication.
Responsible Science Journal, July 2022

Towards a fair consumption space: putting people and equity at the centre of the climate discussion
Lewis Akenji, Dana Vigran and Magnus Bengtsson, of the Hot or Cool Institute, outline their latest research on sustainable lifestyles.
Responsible Science Journal, June 2022

The inclusive, sustainable international conference
How do we reconcile the benefits of scientific gatherings with tackling the climate emergency? Prof Richard Parncutt, University of Graz, has trialled a potential solution.
Responsible Science Journal, May 2022

The mirage of zero-emissions flying
Finlay Asher, Safe Landing, assesses the technical obstacles to the decarbonisation of aviation - and finds they are substantial.
Responsible Science Journal, April 2022

Encouraging a culture of climate activism in universities
Dr Emily Heath, SGR, shares 9 tips based on her experience of leading and supporting sustainability campaigns within the UK higher education sector.
Responsible Science Journal, April 2022

Are the UK’s professional science organisations putting their money where their mouths are?
Dr Liz Kalaugher details progress on SGR’s latest investigation into the financial links between professional bodies and the fossil fuel and arms industries.
Responsible Science journal, April 2022

A new era of activist science
Andrew Simms, SGR, looks at whether scientists can be activists too, and finds that far from being anything new, many of history’s household-name scientists have for generations been getting involved in the moral campaigns of their day.
Responsible Science Journal, April 2022

Hacking the Earth: what could go wrong with geoengineering?
Prof Bill McGuire, University College London, warns about the dangers of relying on geoengineering to dig us out of the climate crisis.
Responsible Science Journal, October 2021

The UK's share of the global carbon budget will be used up in just over 3 years
Dr Ian Campbell examines what the science is really saying about the scale of carbon emissions reduction needed by the UK to comply with the Paris Agreement.
Responsible Science blog, September 2021

How a just transition can speed up the race to net-zero
Prof Nick Robins, London School of Economics, looks at the dynamics of a just transition away from fossil fuels.
Responsible Science Journal, August 2021

Overconsumption, the climate emergency and the scientific community
As the stark findings of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change make global headlines, Prof Julia Steinberger, University of Lausanne, explores how to live well within environmental limits, and asks why questioning overconsumption is so problematic.
Responsible Science Journal, August 2021

Royal Society calls for low-carbon finance but still invests in fossil fuels
With the Royal Society holding a conference on green finance, Andrew Simms, SGR, looks at the gap between the institution's words and actions.
Responsible Science blog, July 2021

Space tourism: environmental vandalism for the super-rich
As billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson launch the first flights of their space tourism corporations, Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, takes a look at the climate impacts.
Responsible Science blog, July 2021

What if we treated the climate emergency as seriously as we treated COVID–19?
Prof Alice Larkin, University of Manchester, argues that, if our society were really serious about tackling climate change, we would put much greater priority on social and economic change - as shown by the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responsible Science Journal, June 2021

‘Polluter elite’ should be UK climate policy target
Andrew Simms, SGR, calls on policy makers to target the UK’s polluter elite to trigger a shift to more sustainable behaviour, and provide affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households.
Responsible Science blog, April 2021

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, September 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, September 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, July 2020

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, June 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, June 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


Why behaviour change is a better bet for climate action than speculative technology
Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh; SGR conference 'Responsible science and the polycrisis: new hope versus false solutions' (online); October 2023

Security, economy, environment: the unavoidable connection
Prof Paul Rogers; SGR conference 'Responsible science and the polycrisis: new hope versus false solutions' (online); October 2023

Degrowth and green growth - what’s the difference for rapid climate action? 
Dr Beth Stratford, SGR conference 'Responsible science and the polycrisis: new hope versus false solutions' (online); October 2023

How war in Ukraine is derailing climate action
Dr Stuart Parkinson; Oxford, UK; October 2022

Science & activism: acting with the face of evidence
Dr Liz Kalaugher, Dr Alison Green, Dr Aaron Thierry; COP26 webinar, Glasgow, UK; November 2021

What is the potential for rapid transition of the aviation industry after Covid-19? 
Dr Lucy Gilliam, SGR conference 'Transition Now'; November 2020

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)

Further reading

Policy and models over reliant on Negative Emissions Technologies

Tyndall Centre, January 2018



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Sign the Science oath for the climate.