The letter calls for the society to set out the reality of the climate crisis in "clear and uncompromising terms"WClarke / Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Society has agreed to meet with UK academics after a widely signed petition, led by Cambridge academic Jason Scott-Warren, demanded the academy condemn fossil fuel companies’ culpability in the climate crisis.

The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the UK’s national academy of sciences and aims to promote “excellence in science for the benefit of humanity”.

The letter, which has received over 1,200 academics’ signatures, states that lobbying efforts by major polluters have inserted new fossil fuel infrastructure, incompatible with 1.5 degrees of warming, into energy transition plans.

The letter goes on to describe this conduct as “an unprecedented act of violence against humanity” and calls on the Royal Society to “condemn” fossil fuel companies in “clear and uncompromising” terms.

Royal Society president Adrian Smith responded to the letter, stating: “Energy companies must be part of this acceleration of private investment and shift their activities to renewable energy sources more quickly”.

The Society has since agreed to meet with representatives of the academics, according to reporting in The Guardian.

Jason Scott-Warren, a fellow at Gonville and Caius, told Varsity his decision to write the letter came in part from “the Regent House grace that we submitted last summer”, which demanded that Cambridge University stop accepting research funding from fossil fuel companies.


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That grace has since resulted in the independent “Topping report”, which found that accepting such funding poses “high reputational risk” to the university, and is not aligned with its decarbonisation goals “on any level”.

Scott-Warren went on to describe his pleasure at the response generated by the letter, as well as the level of engagement with the letter’s demands, before saying, “we must persuade the Society not to keep falling for the same old lies”.

Sam Hutton, Chair of the SU’s Ethical Affairs campaign, spoke for Cambridge Climate Justice, describing the letter as “a powerful call”. He stated that “a clear position from the Royal Society against climate harm and corporate violence” was “long overdue”.