By Prof Ros Gleadow, President of The Global Plant Council

The recent IPCC report has been called a wake-up call. It’s not. That was 30 years ago. Since then, we’ve been hitting the snooze button. I read the first IPCC report in 1991 and since then, it’s been like watching the script of play being rolled out. We are starting to see the beginning of catastrophic climate change. This is already affecting our ability to feed everyone, the nutritional quality of plants and their interactions with animals (including us), human health and biodiversity. This is exacerbated by clearing of native forests and destruction of natural ecosystems for short term gain. The warming is not going to stop at 1.5 °C, or 2°C or even 5°C unless action is taken across the board. There is an urgent need to make it easier for individuals, industry, and agriculture to decarbonise the economy and preserve the environment.

The coming COP26 meeting could be the world’s last chance to get climate change under control. We, The Global Plant Council, are marking this important event with a consensus statement on climate change, with a focus on effects on biodiversity, agriculture, and food security. The Global Plant Council is an international coalition of plant, crop, agricultural & environmental science organizations with representative from all continents except Antarctica. Our mission is to promote plant science to address global challenges: there could be no greater challenge, nor one more relevant to plant science, than the existential threat caused primarily by the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Our statement highlights the need for urgent action and call on all countries to put in place programs to reduce emissions and limit biodiversity loss. The Era we have lived in until now, the Holocene, has been characterised by the highest biodiversity in the history of our planet. The planet will survive, but how much it resembles the one we have now is up to us.

Related readings

Not the new normal

The Global Plant Council is global: we are connected to each other and the environment