Stepping into the world of YouTube was never a calculated career move for me. It was more of a serendipitous stumble into…
“Open for Climate Justice” has been the theme for this year’s International Open Access Week 2022, seeking to encourage connection and collaboration among the climate movement and the international open community. This is to acknowledge that sharing knowledge is a human right, and that tackling the climate crisis requires the rapid exchange of knowledge across geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries.
The importance of Open Access (OA) cannot be stressed enough. OA makes research accessible immediately upon publication with no restrictions and thus anyone with internet access can find, read, mine, cite and share OA articles at no cost to them. Choosing to publish under an OA license advances information equity by making research more visible, useful, and more transparent. Open Science expands these benefits even further by also including content beyond formal research articles, such as data, methods, code, and earlier versions of the manuscript.
Also PLOS have explored how Open Science can advance Climate Justice. For climate research, the immediacy, reach, and demonstrable rigor that Open Science offers is particularly vital, because in climate research, every moment counts and all research matters. Especially when it comes to the climate, timely and thorough exchange of knowledge can accelerate advancement, support high-quality work, and direct scarce research funds where they are needed most.
During this years’s OA week a number of important UN reports were released ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) to start next Sunday in Egypt. These reports came with some ominous warning. First, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide all reached new record highs in 2021 and increse at a worrying rate.
Without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is on track to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels, by 2100. That’s far higher than the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set by the landmark Paris agreement in 2015, and it crosses the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts significantly increases.
And still, as UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2022 shows, we still aren’t doing anywhere near enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Countries around the world are failing to live up to their commitments to fight climate change, pointing Earth toward a future marked by more intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves and species extinction. Policies currently in place point to a 2.8 degrees Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century. Implementation of the current pledges will only reduce this to a 2.4-2.6 degrees Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century, for conditional and unconditional pledges respectively. The report finds that only an urgent system-wide transformation can deliver the enormous cuts needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 45 per cent.
Also this week, the 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown was published concluding that the worsening impacts of climate change are increasingly affecting the foundations of human health and wellbeing, exacerbating the vulnerability of the world’s populations to concurrent health threats. During 2021 and 2022, extreme weather events caused devastation across every continent, adding further pressure to health services already grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Floods caused thousands of deaths, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and caused billions of dollars in economic losses. Wildfires caused devastation and record temperatures were recorded in many countries. At the same time with advancements in the science of detection and attribution studies, the influence of climate change over many events has now been quantified.
This shows the importance of OA to make this information available and inclusive and by pinpointing the deep injustice that is rooted in how climate change affects the world’s populations, depending on where they live. Here, ECRs have an important role to play in making their voices heard and push for change. Let this week be a starting point and a social tipping point for climate justice.