Getting Political & working together 1 March 2010
Climate change is a hard subject to discuss because, whilst it is so serious and important, I can see that it goes against our basic instincts to actually deal with it. Life is tough enough, and it is in our nature to worry about the day-to-day, rather than what the world will be like in 40 years time. For all of the things that you and I do to help reduce our impact on the atmosphere, we are small fish in a large sea of people. It is obvious that we can’t sort all of this out ourselves. However, we can do a lot more if we work together; especially if we make sure that our elected leaders take the issue seriously and make sure it is a political priority to reduce our emissions.
Personal Action – What you can do
Here are a few personal changes you might want to consider. There are loads of webpages and books, with hundreds ideas of things you can do to make a difference. I hope this will highlight some of the more important ideas. Hopefully the information that you have seen so far will give you a good idea about where is best to target your efforts, from reducing car / plane travel to cutting down on the amount of stuff you buy…or maybe you need to find efficient replacement for some of the things that you own.
Personal energy footprint
To make the most best use of your efforts in cutting your carbon footprint, it is important for you to get things in perspective. Which parts of your life demand the most energy: is it transport or heating your home? It makes sense to focus on the “easy wins” – those actions that make the most difference for the least amount of effort.
What does the Copenhagen Accord mean?
Analysing the pledges that were made by 55 parties that signed up to the Copenhagen Accord, you can see that it does not make for a strong agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. With the Accord alone, it seems very unlikely that we will meet the limit of a 2ºC rise in global temperature. The scale of emissions will be very much determined by the growth of countries like China and India, which could have us following the highest scenarios. And it all of course assumes that countries will honour their pledges, which might not be a guarantee.
Global emissions conclusions
The future of global emissions is still uncertain following the Copenhagen Summit and the Accord that came from it. The pledges that countries have made to reduce emissions don’t offer strong guarantees for the future: the rich countries are not offering very impressive cuts; and carbon-intensive economic-growth, of developing nations, could allow emissions to continue along the highest emission scenario line. Talks have just started at Cancun (Mexico), which will hopefully agree stronger targets. It looks like there is little hope of us restricting global mean temperature rise to 2ºC though.
Even if we manage to completely stop all emissions of greenhouse gases right now, we can’t undo the changes we have already made. We have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 50% over the past 250 years. The way the atmosphere works means that its reactions are likely to be delayed so the changes are only starting to show themselves. We will need to adapt to a changing world, and this means us as individuals as well: are you ready for heat waves; thinking about adapting your house / garden; and do you need to worry about flooding?
We are all part of the global warming problem. We all make and impact: we all have a carbon footprint. We all need to start being part of the solution. This page aims to point you in the direction of some personal changes that you can make to help reduce the impact of climate change. It’s partly about what you do in your personal life, the choices you make, the things you do…and don’t do. It is also about electing the right leaders and making sure they build the sustainable infrastructure that we need to live in.
To reduce (i.e. mitigate) the more serious consequences of Climate Change, we must reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. The UK has an important role in influencing / leading the world by following our emissions reduction targets. This section aims to show what these targets are, where the challenges are and how well we are doing.
Global emissions progress
Between 2000-2008 our emissions of carbon dioxide [i] were worse than the worst case emission scenarios, which is obviously a worrying start. Since then the global recession is expected to have brought 2009 emissions down. How economic recovery will effect emissions is going to be very important for the future.
Beware climate change sceptics
There are still people out there in denial, for example those who argue that there is “…some doubt from some scientists that climate change is really happening…or that it is caused by human activities…”. This is wrong. It may have been a fair point 15 to 20+ years ago, but the science has moved on and the evidence is now indisputable. Unfortunately, parts of the media and other organisations keep this denial alive with spurious stories like the “climategate scandal”.