International Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions

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The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions was a conference held in Copenhagen between March 10-12, 2009. It was attended by more than 2,500 delegates from nearly 80 countries with approximately "1,600 scientific contributions from researchers from more than 70 countries." The conference conclusions will be published as a synthesis report in June 2009.[1]


The Congress' "six preliminary key messages" -- which will be expanded on in the full synthesis report -- were:[1]

  • Climatic Trends
"Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.
  • Social disruption
"The research community is providing much more information to support discussions on "dangerous climate change". Recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2C will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and will increase the level of climate disruption through the rest of the century."
  • Long-Term Strategy
"Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid "dangerous climate change" regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of crossing tipping points and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult. Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation."
  • Equity Dimensions
"Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable."
  • Inaction is Inexcusable
"There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches ? economic, technological, behavioural, management ? to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to alter our energy economy now, including sustainable energy job growth, reductions in the health and economic costs of climate change, and the restoration of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services."
  • Meeting the Challenge
"To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience; enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society; and engaging society in the transition to norms and practices that foster sustainability."

Conference Organizers

A media release issued ahead of the congress stated that "the Danish Government has lent its support to the congress, hosted by the University of Copenhagen and organized by the 10 partner universities in the International Alliance of Research Universities, to help keep prevent politics from trumping established science during the COP15 showdown."[2]

The universities in the alliance are:

  • Australian National University
  • ETH Zürich
  • National University of Singapore
  • Peking University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Copenhagen
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Tokyo
  • Yale University


"Star Sponsors" of the conference were[3]:

"Media Partners" of the conference were[4]:

Conference PR

Some of the Congress' media releases listed three contacts from the PR firm Edelman, Mark Grundy, Laura Misselbrook and Nathan Strauss.[5] Grundy and Strauss are both from Edelman's New York office while Misselbrook is based in the firms London office.

Contact details


Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Press release, "Key Messages from the Congress," University of Copenhagen, March 12, 2009.
  2. "Copenhagen 10-12 March 2009 International climate scientists prepare for COP15", Media Release, February 2009.
  3. "Star Sponsors", Climate Office University of Copenhagen, accessed March 2009.
  4. "Media Partners", Climate Office University of Copenhagen, accessed March 2009.
  5. "Fighting global warming offers growth and development opportunities", Media Release, March 12, 2009.

External resources

External articles

Video of Conference Sessions

Media Releases from the Congress

General Artciles

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