There’s no question about it: the planet is heating up, and if we don’t act now the consequences will be disastrous. We’re currently on track to reach 1.5 degrees of global warming – the limit the world signed up to in the Paris Agreement – by the 2030s.
The race is on to grind climate change to a halt and stop unprecedented disasters unfolding around the world. It can be done – as long as we start now.
Human activity has warmed the climate by at least 1.1 degrees celsius since 1880. We’re already seeing the catastrophic toll this is taking on communities and nature around the world. From extreme flooding in Pakistan, to fires in Australia, to drought in Kenya – the past few years have seen a constant stream of headlines about the devastating impacts of extreme weather.
If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unchecked, this destruction will happen more often and across bigger parts of the world. Sea level rise and other cataclysmic weather events triggered by the climate crisis will displace billions of people. Agricultural production will plummet, leading to worldwide food shortages and famine, while the natural world will also suffer, with many species being wiped out completely.
To make things worse, further temperature rises will mean we could pass climate tipping points that will bring about unprecedented and unpredictable disasters. In the worst case scenario, entire ecosystems will collapse completely, and large parts of the earth will become completely uninhabitable for humans or any other form of life.
While this picture of the world that awaits us is certainly bleak, what’s important to remember is that it isn’t set in stone.
Humans are responsible for this dangerous rise in greenhouse gases, which stems largely from societies’ use of fossil fuels for transport, energy, and food production. We’re the problem, which means the power to stop the destruction in its tracks and protect the world for future generations is in our hands.
Countries around the world can halt the crisis by transitioning to a low carbon economy, where we shift away from using fossil fuels and learn to live more sustainably. That’s possible because of the huge strides we’ve made in green technology – for example, clean energy has never been cheaper, and as of this year provides 10% of the world’s power. Not only will switching to renewables help us defeat climate change, but it’ll lead to a cleaner, healthier planet overall.
According to the UN, to keep global heating under 1.5 degrees, worldwide carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and equivalent to net zero by 2050. Countries around the world have committed to reaching these goals, but are falling far behind on meeting them – and emissions continue to rise.
That’s why people are so important in the fight against climate change. While governments may have the final say on policies, we can push for political change and ensure our leaders stick to their climate commitments, move away from fossil fuels, and invest in renewable energy.
And our daily actions matter too: from what we eat to how often we drive. By making more sustainable decisions every day, we can help drive down carbon emissions and cast our vote for a greener, safer world. While the scale of the problem can sometimes make our choices seem insignificant, even the smallest changes will make a huge difference if millions of people get onboard.
Driving down carbon emissions is the most important task we face – but we can also harness the power of nature to begin to repair the damage we’ve done to the planet.
Our forests and soils naturally absorb carbon, helping to keep the planet cool. By individual actions like planting and conserving trees and shifting to more sustainable farming practices, we can help bring the earth’s temperature back down while restoring our precious natural resources.
However, it’s important to note that reforestation isn’t a quick fix – trees can take many years to grow big enough to store a substantial amount of carbon, and there’s always a risk of them being destroyed by fires, insects, or logging.
To capture carbon faster, scientists are racing to develop technological carbon removal solutions, which would capture the greenhouse gas in the same way as forests, but work faster and more reliably. However, these innovations are incredibly expensive, and yet to be available at a large enough scale to make a meaningful difference to the level of carbon in the atmosphere.
Natural and manmade solutions to carbon removal are a critical tool in our arsenal, and will play a pivotal role in both avoiding and reversing climate change. But they’re no substitute for acting now to cut our carbon emissions at the source.
“It’s now or never.” That’s what the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report in April this year.
If we carry on with business as usual, and continue to live unsustainably, we’re facing a temperature rise of around three degrees by 2100 – which will have terrible consequences for lives, livelihoods, and the natural world.
Luckily, the changes we need to make to avoid this disastrous future are within our grasp. We can still turn the tide on climate change. And every fraction of a degree of warming we avoid will save people from death and species from extinction.
We know what the solutions are – now we need to get all hands on deck fast enough to stop the crisis. By acting as individuals, but thinking collectively, each of us can make a huge difference in the fight against climate change.
If you’re ready to start making a difference, our app can help you calculate your carbon footprint and figure out the most impactful changes you can start making today. Try it now and start your climate journey today.