In this blog, we explore the collaborative effort of researchers in mitigating the negative effects of climate change. We further explain the main takeaways raised in our recent ISI Insights paper and explore the emerging trends and topics in climate change research.
Global collaboration for climate change prevention is urgent and necessary. The climate crisis is one of the greatest environmental challenges the world has ever faced. In the past few years alone, the world has witnessed an acceleration of extreme weather events, melting ice and bleached coral reefs.
In our recent Insights paper by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™, we explored the most researched climate change topics over the past twenty years. We analyzed how these topics have changed over time, and what new topics are emerging.
Global collaboration for climate change prevention is a key theme in that report, and we discuss it further here. We look at the speed at which scientists across a diverse range of research areas are working together to halt the negative effects of climate change. We also explore what is driving their international partnerships and what effect governments and policymakers might be having on the latest research trends.
A need for cohesive climate change support and action
The consequences of global warming are devastating. 2016 was the warmest year on record and 2019 marked the end of the warmest decade ever recorded.
The urgent actions needed to tackle the climate crisis are discussed in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 13, Climate Action , specifically addresses this.
Some of the Targets of SDG 13 include:
- strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries;
- integrating climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning; and
- improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
These targets can secure a positive change for a more sustainable economy and energy system. Yet achieving these targets will not be an an easy task. While many countries are prioritizing research on climate change, barriers exist due to lack of funding, the impact of COVID-19 and insufficient human resource capacity.
Climate change collaboration trends
Climate change research is slowly becoming more international.
Between 2000 and 2009, about one-quarter of all climate change papers involved at least two countries. Between 2015 and 2019 this had increased to over one-third.
“Though climate change research remains generally national-focused, the recent increase in international climate change collaboration is encouraging.”
Leaders of this collaboration are the G7 members along with Australia and Mainland China. These are developed research economies with a wealth of technology, access to education and financial resources to help less economically developed countries, especially those most vulnerable to climate conditions, to tackle climate change.
Though climate change research remains generally national-focused, the recent increase in international climate change collaboration is encouraging. The benefits of collaboration are plentiful and will drive the innovation and understanding needed to support meaningful change.
The growth and direction of new climate change research
The number and variety of topics related to climate change has increased in the past 20 years; topics which, for example, had less than five published papers a year (or were completely absent) in 2000 are now producing at least 20.
“This suggests a growing prioritization of the public, organizations and governments in climate change prevention.”
Of particular note are those topics with social science themes. These include:
- Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism
- Education & Educational Research
- Political Science
This suggests a growing prioritization of the public, organizations and governments in climate change prevention.
Climate change prevention: what is needed now
Over half of all climate change research falls into three natural science topics: Oceanography, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences (OMAS); Climate Change (as its own field) and Forestry. Social science subjects, as mentioned above, are only just starting to emerge.
Special attention should continue to be given to emerging, socially-focused topics such as Science Communication and Educational Research. By helping to inform greater public knowledge and awareness on climate change prevention, these focus areas may drive research implementation and our ability to tackle the climate crisis.
Although the effects of climate change might manifest differently in various countries around the world, there is a need to further create global research collaborations between countries. This could benefit all nations as they would be able to learn from each by exchanging technologies, expertise and ideas that would benefit local communities.
The UN SDGs set an agenda for a more sustainable world; Goal 13, Climate Action, is critical as it affects all life on Earth and will shape our shared future.
Our ISI Insights paper, Climate change collaboration: Why we need an international approach to research, recommends that greater public social awareness and international partnerships between governments, nations and academia are required to help drive the innovation and understanding needed to support meaningful change to tackle the climate crisis.
Interested in learning more about global collaboration for climate change prevention? Read our ISI Insights paper, here. You can also register for our upcoming webinar, Global climate change research: gaps and opportunities.