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By Matthew DeLuca

Two dozen of the United Kingdom’s top scientific and cultural institutions released a joint letter Tuesday urging governments to take action on climate change, and work for a world with zero net carbon dioxide emissions by the second half of this century.

“The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases,” says the letter signed by the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Ecological Society, among other groups.

They urge world leaders to set goals to strike carbon emissions and develop policies to tackle climate change ahead of international talks to be held in Paris beginning in November.

Nations will have to hit the zero-carbon emissions mark, the letter signers say, if they want to avert the worst repercussions of warming the world more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — a widely agreed upon limit after which some of the most serious effects of climate change set in.

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“Clearly greenhouse gases must be reduced drastically and soon if there is any chance of meeting the 2 degree goal,” Sir John Beddington, president of the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement. “However, climate change is already with us and even if greenhouse gases were drastically reduced in the near future, significant climate change will occur for many decades.”