Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. It affects every corner of our planet – from the poles to the tropics, and from the mountains to the oceans. People and nature worldwide are already feeling the effects: water supplies are shrinking, extreme weather events increasing in frequency and intensity, forests burning, and coral reefs dying.
Governments and communities are coming together to act – and we can still escape the worst impacts of climate change, and build a safer future for all. But we need to do more, and faster.
Most importantly, we need to step up efforts to switch from using fossil fuels – the biggest cause of climate change – to clean, renewable energy.
Since the industrial revolution, human actions have caused average global temperatures to rise by almost 1°C. Levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are higher than they have been at any point in human existence and are still increasing due to our energy demands. Over the coming decades, global temperatures will continue to rise. But we don’t yet know how much and how fast will they rise.
Scientists warn that 1.5°C of warming will likely have catastrophic impacts. Extreme weather events – from floods and storms, to droughts and heatwaves – bringing huge social and economic costs. Melting ice causing sea levels to rise, flooding coastal cities and whole island nations. Water scarcity and crop failures causing food shortages and unprecedented movements of people within countries and across national borders. Huge, irreversible damage to nature, potentially leading to mass extinctions.
And this could happen within a human lifespan, leaving our children and grandchildren to cope with the results.
Actions big and small can help tackle climate change, no matter where you are:
- Walk, cycle, use public transport or carpool more often
- Grow a plant
- Switch off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use
- Talk to your energy provider about installing solar panels
- Air dry your laundry instead of using the dryer
- Find out how you can influence local politics and have your government prioritize renewable energy