By Vikki Slade, Associate Director
As we see images of Greece burning, Germany flooding and Italy naming its current heatwave as Lucifer, it really does feel like we are witnessing scenes from a biblical tale or apocalyptic movie.
But they are not stories, they are real life and on our doorstep. It has been relatively easy to sleep in our beds when we could say these life changing disasters were happening in another place. It now feels farcical that we have been talking about ditching plastic straws and turning down our thermostats by a notch or two.
So, what did the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – actually say and who are they anyway and is it time for even the doubters to accept that climate change is real, not part of the normal order and caused by the impact of human behaviour?
The report looked at over 14,000 papers from across the world to assess whether there was any other explanation for the changes in our climate and whether we are on track to hold the line. The sobering news is that it’s looking less likely as time goes by, and that what is happening now is unprecedented over not just a few generations but over thousands of years.
The last time that CO2 levels were at this level was over two million years ago and sea levels are increasing faster than at any time since 1,000 BC.
Some critics suggest it is not possible to put down both increased rainfall and drought to climate change, but the panel has found that ‘Climate Change is now affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways’ and are set to worsen if the temperature increases are allowed to continue.
Whilst all the policies have been based on keeping us to 1.5-degree temperature increase by 2050, this looks likely to be unachievable and the impact on the climate now shows what just over 1 degree can do to the stability of our ecosystems, economies and lifestyles.
Our homes, schools and workplaces are not designed for heat. We have built on places that might have suffered a one in 100-year flooding event, but those look likely to become once a decade happenings and as we face uphill battles to get people to use their cars less. The report tells us that climate declarations and 2050 ambitions are no longer enough.
We need positive action now, with emissions halved by the end of THIS decade. While we leave the grass long to improve biodiversity, we can no longer kick decisions on reducing our carbon footprint into the long grass. The IPCC report does not tell us what we should do, but it reminds us that time is running out.
Leading climate scientist, Professor Saleemul Huq from Bangladesh said this week ‘this is not a drill but the final warning that the bubble of empty promises is about to burst’.
There is less than three months before the world convenes for COP26, when those pledges need to turn to actions before it is too late. At Cratus we have joined the Race to Zero and we are working through our own action plan, helping councils identify partners to reach their ambitions and supporting clients in the built environment sector to ensure that their business plans align with the ambitions of communities. Get in touch if we can help.