"There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all."
Previously, governments agreed to prevent global temperature rising above 1.5°C, but the world has already warmed by 1.1°C and now experts say that it is likely to breach 1.5°C in the next decade.
What is happening to our planet?
In the last few years, the world has experienced devastating floods, droughts, wildfires and cyclones caused by climate change, record temperatures and rapid ice melt.
Forests worldwide are , far outstripping the current rate of regrowth. The loss of forest carbon in the tropics was twice as high in 2015-2019 as it was in 2001-2005. Shrinking at an alarming rate, far outstripping the current rate of regrowth.
Worryingly, over a quarter of the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it absorbs due to deforestation and dryer conditions. This tipping point could cause the Amazon basin to become more like a savannah than a rainforest.
2022 was the sixth-warmest year since records began in 1880, with the 10 warmest years on record all occurring since 2010. In fact, a total of 28 countries experienced their warmest year on record in 2022, including the UK, China and New Zealand.
It’s not just temperatures that are warming up, the oceans are too. 2022 was another record breaking year, for all the wrong reasons. The oceans were the hottest ever recorded in 2022, with less sea ice surrounding Antarctica now than at any time since satellites started measuring it in the late 1970s.
What can we do to help?
Although individual carbon footprints are dwarfed by global fossil fuel companies, there are still ways we can make a difference.
· Eat more plants instead of animals
Society needs to shift diets away from climate-intensive foods like animal proteins. Plant-based diets could halve the emissions of the average Western diet, but this statement was removed from the report in response to pressure from meat-producing countries such as Brazil and Argentina.
· Waste less food
Around one third of food grown is thrown away globally. When production, transportation and handling of food is calculated, food waste is a huge emitter of carbon. Food that ends up in landfills also generates large amount of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.
· Swap cars and planes for walking and trains
70% of transport emissions come from road vehicles, while 1%, 11% and 12% come from rail, shipping and aviation, respectively. Walking or cycling more could make a real difference.
· Pressure governments to take action
Climate ranks as a top issue among a rising generation of voters. Pressure can be put on governments via protests, social media campaigns or by writing to counsellors and MPs.
In fact, in 2021 young people from Fridays for Future successfully argued in a German higher court that a lack of climate action threatened their fundamental freedoms and was unconstitutional. As a result, the court forced the government to strengthen emission reduction targets, which it did a couple of months later.
We still have the opportunity to do something about climate change. We must ensure a liveable planet for future generations by doing all that we can to curb emissions.