Climate Change: Fallen by the Wayside

Climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it, is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. In and amongst the news of terror threats, poverty, economic concerns and crime, it is also usually the first to fall by the wayside. Coupled with mounting evidence of climate change’s devastating effects, it seems almost absurd that this is the case – even the slightest change in temperature can have a huge impact on agriculture, wildlife, and the food chain itself.

The explanation as to why it appears to fall by the wayside in the first place seems simple enough – global warming is for many not as an immediate a threat as organisations such as ISIS, nor does it have the emotional impact of heartbreaking images and stories of those living in poverty, or the outrage factor that serious crimes carry with them.

Think about it for just a moment: the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference is currently taking place in Le Bourget, but how much do you actually know about it? Who is attending? What are the goals that have been set out?

As a brief summary, here are two of the main goals of the meeting:

  • To limit global temperature increase to 2°C above ‘pre-industrial’ levels, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • To stand by commitments made in 2009 and 2010 for developed countries to jointly raise “$100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change”.*

As a step towards this, “each State was to publish its own INDC, or “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”” – according to the UN, 170 countries have done so, “representing 93% of global greenhouse gas emissions”.*

But is this enough? In all honesty, probably not. It is however a massive step in the right direction, particularly now that China and the US have stepped up their efforts – China aims to “reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030, from 2005 levels“.

It is also worth noting that to tackle climate change, there also has to be a change in attitude. Many of us recycle our cardboard and plastics, many of us also think twice about picking up a bag now there’s a 5p charge, but how many of us take an active interest in global warming, and how it will directly affect us? I imagine far fewer, myself included.

The thing is, climate change has already started to affect us however indirectly – Storm Desmond is just the latest incident of flash flooding and extreme weather to have the UK this year. And so perhaps it is time we paid closer attention to UNFCCC, to how we can better manage our own energy usage, and in turn encourage others in the UK and beyond to do the same before it is too late.

*United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change here.

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