The need for science in a carbon-constrained world

Frontiers in Natural Sciences: Dean’s Annual Lecture 2024

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Following COP 28, it is evident that science needs to step up, and is expected to step up, to supply the evidence base for ambitious climate action. Based on the latest IPCC reports, this talk will set out what is currently known under three headings. Urgency: the nature and scale of the risks we face;  agency: the capacity of governments and others to take action, if they choose to do so; and equity: how climate change action can reinforce other societal goals and build consensus around the way forward. The talk will also consider new scientific challenges arising from COP 28 itself, and the views of IPCC’s member governments about the shape of IPCC’s Seventh Cycle which has just got under way.


Jim Skea was elected IPCC Chair for the Seventh Assessment cycle in July 2023. He was Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III for the 6th Assessment Cycle. From 2009 to 2023, Jim Skea was Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London. His research interests are in energy, climate change and technological innovation. He was Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre 2004-12 and Director of the Policy Studies Institute 1998-2004. He has operated at the interface between research, policy-making and business throughout his career. He was a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change from its inception in 2008 until 2018 and was the Chair of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission from 2018 to 2023. From 2015-17, he was President of the UK Energy Institute. He was awarded a CBE for services to sustainable energy in 2013 and an OBE for services to sustainable transport in 2004.

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