Mika Anttonen: Scientific community key to curbing climate change

The growth of the world population and gross world product, along with digitalisation, are bringing about a pronounced increase in the demand for primary energy. The emission-free energy solutions currently available are unable to compensate even for this growth alone, let alone replace fossil energy sources.

In 2018, fossil energy production received 70% of global energy investment, a trend that carries on. With the current rate of emissions, the carbon emission limit in line with a temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees, as proposed in the climate report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will be reached within a decade.

The measures now needed are a difficult sell among citizens, which is why finding evidence on their impact is of particular importance. We can no longer settle for chanting about all necessary means; rather, the measures have to be made commensurate, allocating resources to those with the best chance of reducing the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

Scientific communities, such as the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research INAR at the University of Helsinki, possess the expertise required to assess the impact of climate action. This expertise must quickly be applied to mitigating climate change, and to achieve this the government must allocate considerable additional funding for these communities.

Solving the challenge posed by climate change necessitates the establishment of a global carbon exchange, based on the principle that those emitting carbon must pay, while those who serve as carbon sinks receive compensation from the exchange. It is the scientific community’s responsibility to propose acceptable practices to be employed by the carbon exchange and to come up with monitoring indicators. The duty of democracy, on the other hand, is to establish regulation to provide an operational environment suitable for the exchange, while businesses must in practice reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This will only work if all relevant parties, the scientific community, nation states and businesses, strive together towards a common goal. However, the critical role in this is held by the scientific community. It must point us in the right direction.

Mika Anttonen
Majority owner and chair of the board of ST1

In the series Science Advocates, people describe the significance of research and research-based teaching for themselves. Read the other instalments on the Researchmatters website (scroll down).