Underpinning Science

IEMA has declared a climate and environmental emergency. Our declaration is rooted in the reality of the international science base and in the knowledge that our profession (IEMA members) can make a pivotal contribution towards the rapid transitions now required

Science has increasingly been referenced in recent awareness, citizen campaigns and unique inter-generational action. The scientific underpinning is extensive, with two seminal international reports, one on climate change and another on our relationship with nature.


  1. IPCC The IPCC (2018) special report* highlights the dramatic difference in reduced climate impacts, between a world warmed by 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C (the latter scenario often over-simplified as being the ‘Paris target’).
  2. IPBES In May 2019, a further respected international report (IPBES) indicated that goals for conserving and sustainably using nature cannot be met by current trajectories. Along with the IPCC report, this assessment helps to evidence the wider crisis in biodiversity and nature.

IEMA’s declaration reflects this evidence and is addressing both a climate and an environmental emergency.

Two central themes from the IPCC report evidence the urgency for action;


  1. The ‘11 year’ window for action, where emissions will need to be cut 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2°C pathway and to zero by 2050 (compared with 2075 for 2°C
  2. The dramatic difference in reduced climate impacts between a world warmed by 1.5°C rather than 2 °C (1.5 degrees is now increasingly seen as the appropriate scenario to pursue in line with sustainable development principles).


The full title of the 2018 IPCC report is –Global Warming of 1.5°C,a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

*Read the full report here

The 2019 IPBES report*, indicated that goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. Transformative change is further clarified as being a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.

Four 4 key messages were outlined in the summary;


  1. Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are deteriorating worldwide
  2. Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years
  3. Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors
  4. Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while other global societal goals are simultaneously met through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change

*Read the full report here

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