The day we paid attention to climate change.
Today is Thursday 19 September 2019. Tomorrow, there will be a Global Climate Strike (click here to open map). On Saturday, the United Nations (UN) have the first ever Youth Climate Summit. For the full weekend, there will be international meetings across the nine key action areas. And on Monday, there will be the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. Things are happening. So we thought we should put things aside just now and give it our full attention, to be a little more informed and aware, and directed in what we do and the choices we make for sustainability and climate action. We share with you below a summary of what we found (with links). If you are taking climate action, please consider submitting your positive action story to this page using the button below - it may inspire others. Ideas from the UN and recent story contributions below.
Did you know that we must have a firm hold on climate change before 2030? This means urgent, ambitious action right now. It means cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 45 % in the next 10 years, and essentially being carbon neutral by 2050. This includes in cities, which are “a 'cause of and solution to' climate change”. For energy, pollution and health, this means accelerating the closure of coal plants and halting the construction of new ones (by 2020); accelerating the shift towards renewable energy (offering new job opportunities), and; significantly increasing energy efficiency. For nature, this means protection, restoration and unlocking the potential for nature-based solutions. Reforestation is essential in all pathways to success. This also means empowerment of women, alleviating poverty, public education and safeguarding people already affected by the impacts of climate change. Climate change action is very much aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
More than half of the people in the world today are under the age of 30. The Youth Climate Summit 2019 will be the first time the UN has held a climate summit for young people. Their website notes that the weekend event will be “action-oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive, with equal representation of young leaders from all walks of life.” This follows the series of global school strikes this year inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg, who went on school strike outside the Swedish parliament last year in aid of demanding more action on climate change. Thunberg is expected to attend the UN meeting this weekend.
The ultimate target is to limit global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (i.e., before large-scale industry in around 1750). “There are clear benefits to limiting warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C: 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heat waves, survival of some tropical coral reefs, loss of fewer plants and animal species, and the protection of forests and wetland habitats.” In 2018, we were are 0.8°C, and in July this year, 1.2°C. Also, NASA point out that since records began, 18 of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Encouragingly however, “limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics," says energy policy expert Jim Skea of Imperial College London reporting to Smithsonian. “But doing so would require unprecedented changes.” This is how. <— This special report and summary document for policy makers shows what actions are needed to achieve this ambitious but essential climate target (click to open).
The bottom line is that “business as usual, is not good enough”. “Carrying on with business as usual will be disastrous and will lead to a global temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius, or more, this century. Bold leadership, on the part of government, business and civil society leaders, is critical for advancing climate action.” Renewable energy is taking off, undoubtedly. But global emissions are increasing and temperatures are rising. It is clear that this challenge can be overcome. We have the knowledge, the solutions, the technology, and there is money there - we just need to make it accessible. Plainly, “All countries need to scale up what they are doing, and this includes bold actions and far greater ambition” - which must be done quickly.
It is intended that this series of summits and meetings culminating on Monday will drive stronger national climate plans. Countries will meet again at COP 25 in December, and in 2020 must submit their updated plans for climate action. These next 10 years are critical. Stay informed. Be active.
Founder, Why Conserve
Do you know which actions have high potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions?
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Online tool from United Nations for individuals, governments, organisations and companies.
CALL TO ACTION:
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“Tell your story. Inspire the next.”
The United Nations are also calling on individual actions to tackle climate change. Among them are meat-free meals, 5-minute showers, and driving less. Here are what some people are doing. View the actions at www.un.org/en/actnow and add your own positive action story above.