Human activity is changing Earth’s climate in “unprecedented” ways, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned. Within two decades temperatures are forecast to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which will breach the ambitions outlined in the 2015 Paris climate deal. Experts claim a temperature increase of such levels would equate to catastrophic widespread devastation and extreme weather.
The IPCC added some of these changes are now inevitable and “irreversible”, and only drastic and rapid changes to address greenhouse gas emissions in this decade can prevent such destruction.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “[The recent IPCC report] is a code red for humanity.
“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”
But it’s not too late. Tom Bowman, author of What If Solving The Climate Crisis Is Simple? and Empowering Climate Action, told Express.co.uk “virtually everything is within our power to change”.
Mr Bowman said: “There is also strong evidence that the collapse of the vast ice sheets in Western Antarctica is now inevitable, which will raise sea levels substantially, perhaps over several centuries.
“While technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere are expensive and still early in development, one can imagine that some investment to scale them up might eventually become attractive.”
He added: “As one IPCC scientist put it, we have one control lever – the amount of carbon pollution we contribute mainly by burning coal, oil, and gas – and nature takes it from there.
“We can rapidly electrify transportation, reimagine urban plans that promote alternatives to long commutes, upgrade the energy efficiency of homes and buildings, rapidly adopt other energy-efficient technologies, expand the use of renewable energy and quickly wean ourselves off fossil energy sources.”
While much of this may seem out of your control, there are some key steps you can take to help the climate change fight.
Six steps to change the future of climate change
- Turning down your heating – switching down your heating by just 1C can cut down bills by £50 and reduce environmental impact.
- Use LED lights – these use 85 percent less energy
- Insulate your home – this is more of an investment but will lead to payoffs in the longer term
- Use your microwave – a microwave uses less energy than a hob and therefore it is a more environmentally friendly machine to use to heat your food.
- Monitor your carbon footprint – evaluate your usage of electricity, vehicles and waste disposal to work out your carbon footprint. Then you can cut down as needed by taking showers instead of baths or cutting down or out meat consumption depending on your impact. You can calculate your carbon footprint using this calculator tool from WWF.
- Avoid flying – flying has a huge environmental impact so next time you could try to use other means of transport or consider travelling domestically instead.
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While we can all try and do our bit, experts have cautioned the Government also needs to do more in the fight against climate change.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day, the cofounder of climate change social enterprise Treepoints said “bolder action” is needed if we’re to overcome the crisis.
He told Express.co.uk: “Our current destruction will take hundreds, or even thousands of years to return to normality.”
He added limiting temperatures to below 1.5C can ensure “irreversible damage can be stopped from becoming truly unlivable”.
The climate expert said drastic Government action and shifts in daily activity can have a meaningful impact.
And there are four key areas where everyone should act to enact real change in the fight against climate change.
Agriculture and food systems
Professor David Hill CBE, a passionate conservationist and chairman of The Environment Bank said there is no instant fix for the climate crisis, adding significant reductive action on emissions was needed 30 years ago to have a real impact.
He told Express.co.uk to enact real change, agricultural and food systems need to be updated immediately.
This would include changing practices towards regenerative farming, avoiding ploughing and direct drilling, using smaller machines and using satellite technology.
Private transportation is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, with emissions rising every year.
Fuel-powered vehicles contribute a huge amount of pollution in the air with the transition to electric cars desired sooner rather than later by experts.
Environmentalist and scuba instructor Torben Lonne told Express.co.uk “the impact of traffic gases is inevitable and practically unstoppable”.
However, to enact real change in this area commuters are urged to opt for public transportation, which would lessen their individual impact on the environment.
This includes methods of green transport like bikes and scooters.
However, to create real change billions of people need to do the same or there will only be very little impact.
Renewable energy expansion and scaling back fossil fuels
Renewable technologies work by using natural energy to make electricity.
Fuel sources may include wind, wave, marine, hydro, solar and biomass.
Renewable energy sources currently produce more than 20 percent of electricity in the UK and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said 100 percent of the country’s electricity could come from renewables by 2035.
Earlier this month, Mr Johnson said: “We can get to complete clean energy production by 2035.
“We can do for our entire energy production by 2035 what we’re doing with internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030.”
The shift towards renewable energy is part of government efforts to cut carbon emissions by 78 percent by 2035.
Reducing fossil fuels is high on the Government’s sustainability agenda.
However, the UK does not have enough grid power to support this aim currently.
Most of the UK’s electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels.
As the prime minister confirmed plans to decarbonise the electricity grid, gas was providing just under a third of the UK’s electricity demand, at 11.4GW, according to National Grid data.