RE: AMV-BBDO/Department of Energy Change’s climate literacy campaign (‘Storybook’) We are concerned that the basic scientific inferences referred to in the latest DECC ACT ON CO2 public engagement campaign are being brought into question by Clearcast.
We are both surprised and disturbed that the premise of the television campaign is being questioned, given the incontrovertible nature of the science that underpins the campaign material, which is founded on basic physics, a vast body of peer-reviewed scientific literature, and an overwhelming consensus of climate science experts.
A remarkable and compelling degree of international scientific consensus exists on the relationship between rising CO2 levels, global temperature increase, sea level rise and changes to weather patterns. Indeed, there is now absolutely no doubt that some future change is inevitable.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative source of information on the subject of climate change, issued its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Its conclusions and its summary texts were agreed by every nation on Earth. The IPCC AR4 was clear and unequivocal in asserting that global temperatures continue to rise and human greenhouse gas emissions are very likely the ultimate cause:
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level”
“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th Century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”
The AR4 also laid out the observed changes to weather patterns as a result of climate change, demonstrating the prevalence of more severe weather events:
“At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves, and the intensity of tropical cyclones”
The conclusions of the AR4 have been further strengthened by more recent scientific findings, as reported at the International Climate Science Congress that was held in Copenhagen in March this year. The report1 from this congress delivered six key messages from the scientific community to the world leaders, which highlighted the need for a successful global agreement on climate change at the Copenhagen talks this December.
There is also compelling support from other quarters for the scientific basis for climate change. In June this year, the National Science Academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa all signed a joint statement on climate change and the transformation of energy technologies for a low carbon future2. It called on world leaders to undertake a range of actions, saying:
“... climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated; global CO2 emissions since 2000 have been higher than even the highest predictions, Arctic sea ice has been melting at rates much faster than predicted, and the rise in the sea level has become more rapid. Feedbacks in the climate system might lead to much more rapid climate changes. The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”
The scientific basis is now accepted by world leaders, for example President Obama delivered a speech yesterday to the United Nations General Assembly saying,
“No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”
The UK Government bases its response to the threat of dangerous climate change on the IPCC’s findings and these other robust assessments; and DECC’s campaign needs to provide simple messages based on this overwhelming scientific consensus. The purpose of the campaign is to raise public understanding of the causes of climate change and its effects. In particular, it aims to show that climate change is an issue which affects us all and which requires co-ordinated action, domestically and internationally.
We recognise and strongly support your role in ensuring TV advertising is accurate and substantiated. In this instance we are clear that the fundamental science underpinning DECC’s script is entirely consistent with these principles. It is imperative that we communicate clearly and authoritatively the strong, peer-reviewed evidence linking manmade CO2 emissions with climate change and its impact on the UK. In the context of the forthcoming critical talks in Copenhagen in December it is crucial that we help the public to understand the serious challenges facing the UK and the rest of the world due to climate change. Unless we are able to present the evidence in a valid and compelling way, we believe the campaign’s immediate objectives and arguably the Government’s overall objective to reduce CO2 emissions could be compromised.