Wim Thiery / Research Professor

/ Vrije Universiteit Brussel /Climate science, global climate modelling, land-atmosphere interactions, land management, climate impacts

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

We now have overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are largely responsible for the warming of the climate through emissions of greenhouse gases. To safeguard future generations, immediate action is needed in line with scientific evidence. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require immediate, substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, including a transition to a zero-emission world by the middle of the century and global net negative emissions thereafter. While individuals can deliberately change their own lives, the key to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement lies in cross-sectorally consistent and ambitious policies.
Conscious of the call for action arising from decades of climate change research, my family and I are taking measures to reduce emissions in our personal lives. Since many years we are one of the 50’000 members of the renewable electricity cooperative Ecopower (www.ecopower.be), which produces strictly through Belgian wind, water and solar power projects. In addition, we recently installed an electricity-driven heat pump in our home providing our hot water. We eat vegetarian several times per week and avoid flying as a family since the summer of 2015. Last year we joined the electrical car sharing cooperative Partago (www.partago.be) and introduced the initiative in our home town.
At work, we are taking action at the individual-, research group-, department- and university level. So far, I never travelled intercontinentally for a conference, even though I’m aware this damages my career. My team members and I invest a lot of time in climate change communication through classic and social media, by writing blog posts, initiating and contributing to open letters (e.g. https://ees.kuleuven.be/goodcop/, http://uahost.uantwerpen.be/s4climate/index.php/about/, https://signformyfuture.be ) and by teaching climate change in high schools and during cultural events. As a group we aim to reduce our flight emissions by travelling as much as possible by train, consistent with the air travel policy which just got approved at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. We thereby face the challenge of combining extremely full agendas, family life and the need to generate scientific progress by meeting in person with fellow experts from around the world. But perhaps most importantly, last year the VUB also adopted the ambitious plan of divesting from fossil fuels for all its assets by 2020, and immediately diverted 60 M EUR worth of assets away from funds containing shares in fossil-fuel-related companies.

Originally posted 2018-06-11 15:40:38.

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