May 19, 2019

Climate change facts: what is being done to stop global warming

No doubt you have seen the recent warnings in the news.

Climate scientists have given the final call! We apparently now have just 12 years to save our planet from irreversible damage from global warming. The evidence seems overwhelming.

Temperatures have already increased by 1C from pre industrial levels. That means we have just 0.5C left before we exceed 1.5C targets.

After three years of research, scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have issued a special report on the impact of global warming by 1.5C.

And the results are terrifying...

Researches have used the facts to paint a picture of the world with a dangerous fever, caused by humans. And the truth is that if we exceed 1.5C, we are playing with the liveability of our planet. We are on track to exceed this in just 12 years, by 2030.

Impact of 1.5C rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels

Arctic sea ice reduction over recent decades from global warming

The facts about climate change

If we want to keep global warming to 1.5C, we must half our carbon emissions by 2030, and hit net zero by 2050.

This means that we need to cut emissions in every part of the economy, which creates its own unique set of challenges.

Here is a summary of greenhouse gas emissions by sector...

Global greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Source:IPCC (2014);

Climate change facts: what is being done to stop global warming

Tackling energy is relatively easy

That’s right! Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in our energy sector is actually relatively easy.

Whether sun, wind, hydro, each country has its own unique set of resources that can be utilized to power that region.

Over recent years, we have seen rapid falls in the price of renewable power. Solar has lead the way, becoming the cheapest form on newly installed electricity in 60 counties. Even the big energy companies entrenched in their archaic ways have been powerless to stop this transition.

In the UK, wind has been our key to success and has helped us make massive progress in the battle to decarbonise our energy grid. The UK has been building some of the biggest offshore wind turbines in the world. Just one revolution of the largest of these can power a home for a day.

Wind resources are about to become cheaper than fossil fuels. So far, about 30% of our power in the UK comes from renewables. The next steps is to make it easier to store and keep it reliable.

World's biggest wind turbines in UK renewable energy

Reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector

With transport, we again know what to do, but it unfortunately it comes at a cost that so far few have been willing to make. The transition to cleaner cars such as electric or hydrogen power has been making progress, but it is still early days. Sales of plug in passenger cars reached 2.1% of cars sold in 2018.

Making a transition now could buy us time to crack some of the more challenging problems such as aviation. Batteries are currently not powerful enough to sustain flight, but even here gains are being made.

Recently the world's first electric plane made it across the Channel. Scientists are now aiming to get a 20 tonne aircraft partially powered by electricity to better understand how a hybrid system might integrate with mass flight and future aircraft designs.

Reducing carbon emission in industry

With theworld’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2040, increasing strain will be placed on outdated infrastructure. Today, 80% of our current energy is generated from burning fossil fuels, a figure that is unlikely to change in areas where population growth is largest and the production of heavy industrial goods is highest. 

This makes it inevitable that we will have to develop methods to better capture carbon as it is released, whilst reducing the levels of carbon already in the atmosphere if we are to achieve 1.5C.

Industry produces a staggering 21% of global carbon emissions. If this figure is to be reduced and we are to half our emissions by 2030, we need to take drastic action fast.

Again, this is not impossible. The technology is already at our fingertips.

Carbon capture to reduce global warming

The technology that will help reduce CO2 emissions in industry- carbon capture 

The first bit of tech that we already have at our disposal is trees, which could lock in huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Sadly, the desolation of our rainforest is on the increase, largely being replaced by our ever growing demand for palm oil, agricultural products and wood.

The second piece of tech is perhaps slightly more innovative but equally as important.

Carbon capture has thepotential to prevent up to 90% of all carbon emissions at heavy CO2 producing sites, such as power plants, industry, and refineries. Some believe that if this technology is installed effectively throughout our economy, total carbon production could be reduced by up to 50%. It holds massive potential for the future.

 

 

The third piece of technology that could help prevent global warming is something that might seem as if taken directly from science fiction, but it is in fact a real development that is currently being explored. At sites like Hellisheidi, Iceland, direct air capture is already removing carbon from the air by filtering it and storing it deep underground.

The tech still has some way to go until it can start to make a significant difference to the carbon already in our atmosphere, but early sites show great promise for the future.

 Direct air capture Iceland helps to reduce global warming

What action can you take today to reduce your CO2 emissions?

If we are to prevent a warming of 1.5C, we must all do our part. We cannot simply rely on governments and big businesses to reduce our emissions for us. If we do, we might be waiting a lot longer than time will allow.

The average UK person has acarbon footprint of 10 tonnes per year. Making reductions doesn’t have to come at a cost. In fact, it can also save you money.

If you are inspired to take action but don’t know how to reduce your carbon emissions, the following article will provide a helpful guide to reducing your carbon footprint in simple steps that you can start today.

We need not look far to see the consequences that one individual can have on both policy makers and climate activists around the world. At just 16, Grueta Thenberghas actively shaped the actions and opinions of thousands, and her influence continues to direct politics.

Record breaking storms, uncontrollable fires, scorching sun, and of course, the Beast from the East. Change has already started, it is time to start taking action. The first steps don’t need to be hard. In fact, small efforts from all of us will create a significant difference.


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