Scientific Leaders Press for Climate Treaty

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Hoping to build momentum for a strong commitment to addressing the threat of global climate change at December's climate treaty meeting in Kyoto, Japan, more than 1500 prominent scientists--including dozens of Nobel laureates--today released a statement calling on all governments to take prompt steps to reduce greenhouse gas output.

The statement, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), follows several similar letters this year, including one authored by economists and an Internet message endorsed by nearly 3000 scientists. But the latest list may be the most impressive yet, including "National Academy-level scientists from across the globe," as UCS chair Henry Kendall (a physics Nobelist) said. The signers include 98 of the 171 living Nobel winners in science and officials of dozens of national academies of science. The eclectic group, ranging from astronomers to microbiologists and ecologists to atmospheric chemists, includes Bert Bolin, who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change until this week. Some other prominent climate scientists apparently chose to recuse themselves.

The statement calls for "legally binding commitments to reduce industrial nations' emissions of heat-trapping gases significantly below 1990 levels in accordance with a near-term timetable." Developing nations, it adds, should limit emissions "over time"--a softer stance than the U.S. Senate has taken. Next stop on the road to Kyoto: a White House summit to discuss policy options on 6 October.