Dear Vice-Chancellor Renström,
We are Scientist Rebellion (SR), an international movement calling on the academic community to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to catalyse the urgently needed changes to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies (CEE). At Lund University, our group is composed of employees and students across all strata of the University community at different faculties and institutions.
In the first week of April, the IPCC working group III will release its report, which lays out possible solutions to the CEE. In connection to this release, on and as part of a global mobilisation of scientists, on April 8 we will carry out a teach-in at a public space in our Campus: researchers from different disciplines will be invited to give short talks about the crisis from the point of view of their areas of expertise. Students and University staff will be invited to listen. With this, we want to highlight that scientists must be in the front lines for creating political will for the implementation of the transformational changes needed, and we urge the University to take leadership in preparing society for the challenges that are coming.
The IPCC reports from working groups I and II, released in August 2021 and February 2022, present a sobering picture: at the current level of global warming, climate change has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt. Exceeding 1.5°C in the near term is more likely than not even under the lowest greenhouse gas emission scenario, with catastrophic and irreversible impacts in many parts of the world. Furthermore, considering that all the assessed scenarios rely on yet undeveloped and unproven technologies to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, these predictions are overly optimistic.
Even in this terrible situation, there are feasible ways, some of them presented in the mentioned reports, to mitigate and adapt to some of the worst of climate disruption and avert the most horrifying consequences of the crisis. However, given how late we are in starting these changes, implementing them will require a deep, fast transformation of every aspect of our society. The main obstacle to this transformation is, as the IPCC authors themselves point out, the lack of political will. And we, researchers, scientists, and institutions that exist to advance knowledge and serve society, have a crucial role to play in creating this political will.
As one of the leading universities in Europe, the role of LU in these extraordinary times cannot be any other than to prepare society for the changes that are needed and help create resilience. We therefore urge Lund University to publicly declare a climate and ecological emergency, recognising the CEE as the most urgent, existential threat to humanity and the biosphere, and committing to putting its intellectual and practical capacity to furthering CEE-related education, research and applied action. As some concrete measures, we urge the University to:
- Revise the academic curricula for all degrees across all disciplines to take into account these realities, and to teach relevant knowledge to mitigate and adapt to climate breakdown.
- Normalise and promote advocacy and activism, including organisation with community groups and activist movements, among researchers and all University personnel, through including these activities as part of their work mandate.
- Promote and prioritise research efforts aimed at increasing resilience, from creating alternatives to the dominating economic model to investigating health issues related to pollution and climate change.
- Redouble outreach efforts to the general public communicating the full magnitude and urgency of the crisis and all its implications for human societies, and the urgent need for transformational change.
- Revise our own practices to drastically reduce the University's greenhouse gas emissions, for example from flying, and our contribution to pollution, for example from one-use plastic.
LU leadership on the CEE could a have huge positive impact on how society responds to the crisis. Other universities and teaching institutions could follow suit, creating waves of awareness and action. We acknowledge that implementing the changes we ask for is a huge task and may seem overwhelming. We say it is the most pressing, noble and sensible effort the University must embark on, responding to humanity’s most urgent challenge: Preserving life on Earth. Doing the right thing.
We will be more than happy to discuss with you, and to engage in constructive dialogue about the best ways of implementing what we ask for. For this, we would like to request a meeting — please let us know when it would be a good time.
Waiting for your reply at your earliest convenience.
Scientist Rebellion (Lund)