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Climate change: "Cost of inaction to global economies is huge" warns Government's Chief Scientific Adviser – University of Reading

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Climate change: "Cost of inaction to global economies is huge" warns Government's Chief Scientific Adviser

Release Date 06 November 2006

A pioneering centre for climate research has opened at the University of Reading - with stark warnings from the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser. Sir David King, the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, launched the Walker Institute for Climate System Research, telling the audience how the cost of inaction to global economies was huge, how there was now the Stern Report had established link between economic analysis and science and how there was a need to both adapt and mitigate in order to move forward. He also warned how energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and new low carbon sources all required investment now. The Institute aims to exploit and integrate the unrivalled climate expertise within the University, to address fundamental questions in understanding and forecasting climate variability and change and its impacts – on timescales of weeks to decades and beyond. This research is essential for informing adaptation strategies that will enable sustainable development in the face of climate change, especially in the developing world where vulnerability to climate is already high. The Walker Institute will address important issues such as: how pollutants, e.g. emissions from aircraft, affect climate; the potential to forecast natural climate variations, such as El Niño and monsoons, over seasons and decades; how climate change might affect high impact weather events, like storms; and how crops may be adversely affected by increasing drought and heat stress. These issues have been highlighted in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change published on Monday, and scientists from the University have been centrally involved in providing input to the Stern Review on the science of climate change and its impacts. The Founding Director of the Institute, Julia Slingo, also Director of Climate in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS – Climate) and Professor within the Department of Meteorology, said: "The University of Reading is uniquely placed to pioneer a new integrated approach that responds to the demands and challenges of our changing climate. It also has excellent links with the developing world, especially Africa, India and China, and we intend the Walker Institute to be a major force in collaborating with those countries in developing sustainable solutions to the impacts of climate variability and change." "The University already houses world-class research groups across a range of disciplines central to climate system science, and this is coupled with state-of-the-art capabilities in climate modelling and the exploitation of earth observation data. The Walker Institute provides the structure in which this unique depth and breadth of expertise in climate, water resources, food production and biodiversity can be channelled to place Reading at the forefront of research and training in climate system science in the coming years." The Walker Institute is named after Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker, the eminent meteorologist, best known for his work on the Indian Summer Monsoon and the Southern Oscillation, now known to be linked with El Nino, and for pioneering seasonal forecasting. The wider scientific community, in particular the Met Office Hadley Centre and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, have offered their support to the new Institute. Facts and figures: The Walker Institute involves a number of different Schools at the University, including Agriculture, Policy and Development, Mathematics, Meteorology and Physics, and Human and Environmental Sciences. The University has committed funds for a full-time permanent Director, who will be supported by an administrator, and a communications and business development team. The Institute starts with around 30 senior scientists, each leading a group of several researchers and PhD students, from 10 different departments and centres around the University. More than 100 scientists will be directly involved in the Institute. Notes to Editors: About the University of Reading The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. For further information contact Lucy Ferguson, Senior Press Officer, on 0118 378 7388, or email

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