Demonstrators pretend to resuscitate the Earth (file image)
There's a lack of real scientists among the climate emergency declaration signatories. Image by AP PHOTO

Climate list claim melts away under closer inspection

David Williams December 13, 2023

1609 scientists have signed a declaration stating there is no climate emergency.


False. The list of signatories includes lawyers, teachers, IT workers and relatively few climate scientists.

Social media posts claim a “World Climate Declaration” proclaiming there is no climate emergency has the backing of 1609 scientists who have signed the document.

This is false. A closer look at the signatories reveals relatively few are scientists, with the majority working in fields without any specialised climate knowledge.

The list of Australian signatories alone reveals forestry and mining executives, lawyers, IT workers, teachers and a federal MP who used to be a grazier and boilermaker.

Many Facebook posts – see here, here, here, here and here – are sharing key points from the document, including that there is no climate emergency and 1609 scientists worldwide have backed the declaration.

A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts.
 Facebook posts falsely claim all the document’s signatories are scientists. 

The wording is taken from the World Climate Declaration, published online by an independent foundation called Climate Intelligence (Clintel).

Clintel was founded in 2019 by emeritus geophysics professor Guus Berkhout, who began his career with Shell in 1964, and science journalist Marcel Crok.

Clintel’s info page says Dr Berkhout initiated the declaration as a “one-page summary of the view of many climate realists in the world”.

Notably, Clintel does not claim the signatories to the declaration – described as a “living document” frequently updated as signatories are added – are all scientists.

However, people interested in signing the declaration are directed to an online form which states “the signatory list is used as a worldwide network of experts on climate matters”.

That description is repeated uncritically by advocates of the declaration such as Australian property investor Kevin Young, whose “Property Insights” blog lists 136 Australians in the signatories list he describes as “experts in the field”.

Number three on his list is a physician, number four is a retired teacher, and number eight is a ship designer.

The claim the declaration signatories are scientists has been picked apart elsewhere, such as this post on X (formerly Twitter), which states: “I picked a random Aussie signatory: ‘Gordon Batt, Director GCB Investments Pty Ltd’. Not only not a climate scientist, not an eminent scientist, not a scientist, but a rando about whom a Google search turns up almost nothing.”

AAP FactCheck also took a closer look at the 166 Australians on the list, which publishes signatories’ names and their professions.

They included nine medical practitioners, 11 teachers, 21 engineers, two architects, four IT experts, nine from the forestry and mining industry and 37 geologists.

Seven on the list describe themselves as having some form of specialism in climate science.

There were also two lawyers, including Adelaide-based Campbell Rankine, who confirmed to AAP FactCheck he was an attorney, not a scientist.

Federal MP Colin Boyce, the Liberal National Party member for Flynn in Queensland, was also on the list. Mr Boyce refused to confirm or deny whether he is a scientist when contacted by AAP FactCheck.

His parliamentary page lists among his qualifications and occupations before entering parliament: boilermaker, grazier/farmer, small business owner, earthmoving contractor and high-pressure pipe welder.

Colin Boyce
 Federal MP Colin Boyce has signed the document. 

The variety of occupations among the Australian cohort is typical of the wider list, which includes Canadians Callum Beck, a sessional professor in religious studies, and Stuart McDonald, a retired insurance broker, French architect Patrick Mellett; and Thomas A. Gilliam, a retired US accounting professor.

The claim the signatories list is made up of scientists is also debunked here.

Clintel’s claim there is no climate emergency is debunked here.

AAP FactCheck has previously looked into the question of scientific consensus around anthropogenic warming.

This 2013 paper, for example, looked at 11,944 peer-reviewed articles and found 97.1 per cent endorsed the consensus on human-induced global warming.

A dataset of 1372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data was used in this 2010 study to show 97-98 per cent of climate researchers most actively publishing supported the tenets of anthropogenic climate change.

A 2016 study looked at peer-reviewed global warming articles from 2013 and 2014 and found only four of 69,406 authors rejected anthropogenic global warming.

The Verdict

The claim 1609 scientists have signed a declaration claiming there is no climate emergency is false.

A closer look at the list, which includes signatories’ names and professions, reveals relatively few are scientists – let alone climate scientists. 

Among the 166 Australians on the list include lawyers, teachers and IT experts.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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