National science academies of 15 countries – including the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science- issued joint statements warning Governments about the need to address the planet’s most pressing challenges, namely: Climate change, energy and water security and natural disasters.

The coalition of national science academies, operating under the term G-Science, has issued the statement ahead of the upcoming G8 summit and other international meetings this year.

The majority of countries have made commitments to limit human-caused greenhouse gas emissions but G-Science has expressed concerns over the need for more standardised methods to estimate natural and human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. “Such estimates are needed to verify an international climate treaty as well as to detect changes in natural green­house gas emissions (such as, large-scale release from methane hydrates) or sinks. Also, better understanding of the global distribution of black carbon (which is soot, rather than a greenhouse gas) would both improve our ability to manage its impact on human health and allow better assessment of its contribution to climate change.”

G-Science also stresses that the need for affordable and clean energy, water in adequate quantity and quality, and for food security will not only play an increasingly pivotal role in the future, but the needs are also strongly linked. “In some regions, the increasing demands for water in support of energy development and use pose challenges to its availability for food and other human needs and for important eco­logical systems. It is critically important that planning and investment in energy and water infrastructure and associated policies take into account the deep interac­tion between water and energy.

“Fossil fuels provide some 80 percent of the worlds current energy needs, including most transportation systems. Some fossil fuel sources, including increasingly important ‘unconventional’ sources, such as tar sands, gas hydrates, and gas and oil in tight formations, have substantial implications for quantity and quality of water. Producing alternative transportation fuels, in particular biofuels, depending on the specific applications, can involve substantial impacts on water resources and water quality.

“Energy from some renewable sources such as photovoltaic solar and wind, on the other hand, requires very little water.”

The G-Science statements were signed by the leaders of notable national science academies including, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which is hosting this year's G8 Summit. 

The statements are intended to inform not just leaders attending the G8 summit but also the G20, the Rio+20 environmental summit, and other important events.