1st Equinox Summit, 21/22 March, 2023 in Brussels

24 March 2023

Major milestone in accelerating the transfer from climate knowledge to policy and action with the support of more than 11 European countries

On invitation by the State Secretary for Recovery and Scientific Research, Thomas Dermine, and the Belgian Minister for Climate and Sustainable Development, Zakia Khattabi, the first European Climate Change Science Summit – Equinox Summit – took place on 21-22 March 2023. It was held in the Egmont Palace in Brussels in the presence of European ministerial colleagues.

The Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report was released based on scientific research and expertise that we are in a decade where our future is in a critical balance. Last year Europe experienced severe and unprecedented heat extremes. The year prior, floods devastated areas of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Such extremes are only projected to increase.

At this pivotal moment, the European climate research JPI Climate, with the support of the MAGICA project, organised a high-level gathering with leading European actors in climate science, policy and implementation. The aim of the Summit was to take stock and recall the wealth of climate knowledge available. As well, as to discuss what is next for Europe in terms of accelerating the transfer of knowledge into action.

On day one, keynote speeches and panel discussions included the participation of co-leaders of the three IPCC working groups, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Hans-Otto Pörtner and Jim Skea. Furthermore, it included the participation of high-level representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA), Copernicus, the European Commission, the Joint Research Center, partners from the Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs), the European Environment Agency (EEA), national and European Climate Councils, as well as representatives from Climate KIC. Relevant interventions were also given by the Global Carbon Project and by the co-President of the Club of Rome, Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

The high-level session on day two, gathered 11 European Research, Climate and Environment Ministries, they were represented by Ministers, State Secretaries and by mandated senior officials.

Together they expressed their strong support to use the next 12 months to establish a process to determine how to accelerate the transfer of knowledge from science and innovation to climate policy and actions.

The supporters of the statement (available here) request JPI Climate to explore further the modalities of such a process towards the 2024 spring Equinox with the aim to reconvene under the Belgian Presidency to launch this new mechanism.

In the encouraging keynote speech from the European Commission given by Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director General DG Climate Action, she recognised the role of science before the final session statement.

“As users of policy-relevant scientific knowledge, DG CLIMA acknowledges that the scientific community is at the source of producing the indispensable evidence base, solutions and services needed to navigate the transition to climate neutrality and resilience.”

By supporting this statement, the 11 countries emphasized the need to ensure that the users are frequently provided with this scientific evidence base. With political support, JPI Climate is now putting the bits together and looks forward to the next Equinox Summit under the Belgian Presidency of the European Council.