Burning fossil fuelsAs we burn up the planet’s coal, oil and gas supplies and destroy vast areas of forests and peatlands, greenhouse gases are pouring into the atmosphere and disrupting the delicate balance of gases that sustains life on our planet. This is changing our world and having devastating impacts on people and environments.
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists all agree on this – the rising global temperatures we’ve recently experienced are down to human activity.
Poorer countries - with the least resources to protect themselves - will suffer the most from the impacts of climate change.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt. Average global temperatures have risen every decade since the 1970s, and the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997.
Glaciers, permafrost and sea ice are disappearing. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs dying, seasons changing and extreme weather events becoming more common. The impacts of climate change are already responsible for killing an estimated 315,000 people every year and damaging ecosystems. And this is just the beginning - the science predicts that anything more than 2°C rise in global temperatures puts us on the road to potentially catastrophic problems. There will be more flooding, more drought, more disease, more famine and more war, creating hundreds of millions of refugees and causing the destruction of entire ecosystems and species.
We need urgent action to make sure that doesn’t happen.
We need to step up our use of clean energy like wind, wave, tidal and solar energy
Fortunately, there is practical, achievable action we can take now to minimise the amount of greenhouse gases reaching the upper atmosphere.
What we need is a low carbon economy with minimal use of fossil fuels. And our research shows that we already have the potential to produce everything we need to get us there – we're just lacking the political action and investment to support a clean energy future.
The first and most important thing we can do here in Britain is to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use. This doesn't mean sitting in the dark half the winter under a massive duvet, rather first of all we need to use the energy we get from coal, oil and gas as efficiently as we can. That means increasing the efficiency of the things in our life that use energy like appliances, cars, buildings and factories.
Another huge step we can take is to make our energy production more efficient. Our current systems are so wasteful that properly applied energy efficiency measures could cut our overall power demand by over 50 per cent.
Next we need to step up our use of clean energy like wind, wave, tidal and solar energy. Equally important is a new smart national power grid capable of integrating all these different sources.
We also need to redesign our transport system by improving and increasing the use of public transport, stopping airport expansion and massively increasing the efficiency of our petrol driven vehicles, and then replacing them, first with hybrids, and ultimately electric vehicles.
Climate change is a big challenge for the planet, and requires action at a large scale by all levels of government and business, but there are many things that you can do reduce your own energy consumption and promote smart energy choices in your community.