Top Climate Scientists Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel to Issue Stark Challenge at Paris COP21 Climate Conference

Press Conference to take place on Thursday, December 3 at 14:00 in the Gallery of Solutions – Media Stage – Air and Space Museum, Paris, Le Bourget 

November 12, 2015, Paris, France — Four of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. James HansenDr. Tom WigleyDr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel, will issue a stark challenge to world leaders and environmental campaigners attending the COP21 climate summit at a scheduled press conference in Paris on December 3

Dr. James HansenDr. Tom WigleyDr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel will present research showing the increasing urgency of fully decarbonizing the world economy. However, they will also show that renewables alone cannot realistically meet the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, and that a major expansion of nuclear power is essential to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system this century.

The scientists will outline how only a combined strategy employing all the major sustainable clean energy options — including renewables and nuclear — can prevent the worst effects of climate change by 2100, such as the loss of coral reefs, severe damages from extreme weather events, and the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide. 

The challenge from the scientists comes as nuclear power is back on the table at Paris as a major climate mitigation option, appearing as a significant component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of major emitters including China, the U.S. and India. The four scientists call for an increase in ambition in the deployment of improved light-water reactors, with the accelerated development of advanced fission technologies to accompany planned increases in solar, wind and hydro power generation.

In light of the urgency of tackling climate change and nuclear power’s essential role in limiting temperature rises, the four scientists will therefore challenge environmental leaders who still hold anti-nuclear positions to instead support development and deployment of safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power. For example, the Climate Action Network, representing all the major environmental groups, still insists despite all evidence to the contrary that “nuclear has no role to play in a fully decarbonized power sector.”  The four scientists will state that the anti-nuclear position of these environmental leaders is in fact causing unnecessary and severe harm to the environment and to the future of young people. 

The scientists will outline the latest research on sea level rise, ocean acidification and ice sheet collapse supporting their conclusions about the increased urgency of tackling carbon emissions. 

Dr. Hansen will brief journalists on his latest collaborative modelling and paleoclimate work, concluding that even 2C of global warming is “highly dangerous” and could lead to non-linear disintegration of ice sheets, ocean stratification and multi-meter sea level rise even within this century. 

The four presenting climate scientists are each leading pioneers in the field of climate and atmospheric science, having made major contributions to our understanding of climate change. Dr. James Hansen is a professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Dr. Kerry Emanuel is a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Tom Wigley is a climate scientist at the University of Adelaide and Dr. Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and at the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. For brief biographies, please see below. 

The lead speaker at the press conference, Dr. James Hansen, is widely regarded as having been the first to raise the alarm about climate change, more than 25 years ago.

Press Conference at Paris UNFCC COP21
Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira & Dr. Kerry Emanuel
Thursday, December 3 at 14:00
Gallery of Solutions – Media Stage – Air and Space Museum, Paris, Le Bourget
Media may RSVP to: 


James Edward Hansen is an American professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute. Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In recent years, Hansen has become a climate activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on a few occasions has led to his arrest. From 1981 to 2013, he was the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. As of 2014, Hansen directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University's Earth Institute. The program is working to continue to “connect the dots” from advancing basic climate science to promoting public awareness to advocating policy actions.

Tom Wigley is a climate scientist with the University of Adelaide and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) for his major contributions to climate and carbon cycle modeling and to climate data analysis, and because he is "one of the world's foremost experts on climate change and one of the most highly cited scientists in the discipline." He has contributed to many of the reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the work of the IPCC, including the contributions of many scientists, was recognized by the joint award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize).

Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where his job is “to make important scientific discoveries.” He also serves as a Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. Caldeira is a member of the committee producing the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Sciences report “Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts.” He is also a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. In 2010, he was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America's Climate Choices report and was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009 and ocean acidification panel in 2005. Caldeira was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage. 

Kerry Emanuel is an American professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular he has specialized in atmospheric convection and the mechanisms acting to intensify hurricanes. He is the author or co-author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and two books, including Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, recently released by Oxford University Press and aimed at a general audience, and What We Know about Climate Change, published by the MIT Press. He was named one of the Time 100 influential people of 2006. In 2007, he was elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.