Climate change – how can we live more sustainably?

Climate change – what needs to happen?

Climate change can seem such a big issue and sometimes it feels like no matter what we do, we will not make a difference. But by working together, we really can! 

The aim is clear – to keep the rise in global temperature below 1.5°C.

And it is really important for our planet that we all play our part. If temperatures rise by 2°C – just 0.5°C more – the impact on our planet is huge.

Keeping the temperature rise below 1.5°C degrees will take really big actions by governments, industry and companies around the world. A special report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 October 2018 recommended five big actions they could take – the five steps to 1.5.

But helping our planet also needs smaller actions from everyone – that includes me and you!

Five steps to 1.5:

1. Global emission of Co2 (carbon dioxide) need to reduce by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030.

2. Renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power should provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050.

3. Use of coal to provide electricity is expected to reduce to nearly zero.

4. Up to seven million square kilometers of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia!)

5. Global net zero emissions by 2050 – this means taking as much as or more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere as we put in, for example by planting lots of trees that absorb carbon dioxide.

The World Resource Institute has produced a fantastic infographic that provides a breakdown of the differences between a 1.5˚C and a 2˚C world.

What happens if we don’t act?

Temperatures have already risen nearly one degree since pre-industrial levels, and we are already seeing alarming changes to our world. Both Poles are melting quicker that ever before, trees are dying and some species face dying out. If temperatures rise by 2 instead of 1.5, we are in for some big and dangerous changes to our world:

 

– Coral reefs would be wiped out.

– The Arctic could melt – ice in the areas around the North Pole could disappear completely.

– Whole nations might have to move. Global sea-level will rise about 10cm (4in), meaning that 10 million more people would be at risk of flooding than if temperature rise was kept to 1.5, and low-lying island nations, such as the Maldives, would be under the sea.

– Our ability to grow crops such as rice, maize and wheat would be reduced.

 

Even chocolate would be under threat! Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which grow in warm and humid climates. But a rise in global temperatures would mean there would be fewer, not more, places to grow cacao beans as hotter temperatures cause unpredictable weather systems which puts the crops at risk.

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