What is Climate Change?

Source: Iwan Davies

Humans have been around for about 300,000 years, but we’ve only been polluting significantly in the last 60 years. Our pollution stays in the air for thousands of years, creating a thickening blanket that traps heat in the air. This heat is causing bigger forest fires, more flooding, higher sea levels, stronger hurricanes, deadly heatwaves and the mass extinction of wildlife. However, we can fix this.[1]

The world is currently at least 1°C hotter than it was at the start of the industrial revolution around 1800[2] and is on track to pass 3°C before 2100. In order to keep the temperature below 1.5°C, the world needs to halve its emissions over the next 10 years and have net zero emissions by 2050. This is a 5% reduction from October 2021 to October 2022.[3]

What’s wrong with electricity?

A quarter of the world’s emissions come from electricity production, so we need to use less electricity and/or change the way we make it. No one should ever build a new coal-fired power station again and developed countries like the UK should get rid of coal power by 2030, while renewable energy is scaled up.[4]

What’s wrong with transport?

A tenth of the world’s emissions come from transport and this is rising fast, so we need a worldwide ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035, and all other petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, while scaling up electric vehicles.[5]

What’s wrong with our farms?

Nearly a quarter of the world’s emissions come from agriculture, forestry and land use, so we need to end deforestation and transition to sustainable agriculture. We should also reverse deforestation and/or make sure 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the oceans are protected by 2030.[6]

Money

Lots of money is needed to change our energy, transport and agriculture systems so every financial decision needs to take climate change into account, which will also create new jobs. Poor countries like India need support so rich countries should raise at least $100 billion for them.[7]

Your impact

How good are you? Try the carbon footprint calculator.

Sources

  1. John Marshall TED talk, 3 strategies for effectively talking about climate change: https://www.ted.com/talks/john_marshall_3_strategies_for_effectively_talking_about_climate_change/transcript?language=en at 3:08. Date accessed: 26/07/2021
  2. Met Office, UK Government: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2018/2017-temperature-announcement. Date accessed: 26/07/2021
  3. UN climate Change conference 2021, Glasgow, Information, Mitigation, https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/mitigation/ Date accessed: 26/08/2021
  4. UN climate Change conference 2021, Glasgow, Information, Energy, https://ukcop26.org/energy/ Date accessed: 26/08/2021
  5. UN climate Change conference 2021, Glasgow, Information, Transport, https://ukcop26.org/transport/ Date accessed: 26/08/2021
  6. UN climate Change conference 2021, Glasgow, Information, Nature, https://ukcop26.org/nature/ Date accessed: 26/08/2021
  7. UN climate Change conference 2021, Glasgow, Information, Finance, https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/finance/ Date accessed: 26/08/2021