Global warming

What is this new IPCC report?

We are at the most critical moment in human history. Billions of people around the world – including in the UK –  are already suffering because of the climate crisis and many of its impacts are already ‘irreversible’. We have a short window in which to tackle the worst of it.

This is the devastating conclusion of the latest IPCC report. But just what is this new report and why should it be taken seriously?

What is the IPCC?

The IPCC is the ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’. Formed in 1988, it’s a United Nations body that was created to assess the latest science related to climate change and provide world governments with details of its impacts and future risks. The IPCC also gives options for reducing the worst effects of global warming and adapting to rising temperatures.

There seem to be so many of these reports. What’s this one?

The IPCC is tasked with providing regular scientific updates. It doesn’t undertake its own research. It exists to analyse thousands of scientific reports and create an objective overview of them.

Each assessment comes out roughly every five to seven years, as they entail a laborious process, with thousands of climate scientists assessing and peer reviewing the work of their fellow academics. Every word has to be agreed and signed off by each country involved in the report so the findings are unanimous. This means there is no doubt at all about the cause and effects of climate change and what we need to do to avert catastrophe.

This latest report is part of the sixth assessment that’s been undertaken since the body began. Known as the ‘Working Group II’ contribution, it looks at the causes, impacts and solutions to the climate crisis.

Why should it be taken seriously?

The IPCC reports summarise the work of thousands of the world’s top climate scientists. They are the definitive source of evidence-based information on the climate. Sometimes, scientific language can be qualified and cautious, but their conclusion this time is categorical. We must take drastic action now to save the planet. 

What are the top five things I can do right now?

The idea that everything we love is at stake is extremely hard to get your head around. It’s easier to look away and hope someone else will tackle this overwhelming issue. As someone who looks at the climate crisis day-in and day-out, I really do understand.

But it’s up to all of us to do our bit. We’re all in this together. The best way to have hope is to act. Remember, we already have the technology to stop the worst of this crisis. We just need two things: those in power to make the necessary changes and a widespread shift in the way we live to clean energy and sustainable lifestyles.

With that in mind, here are the five most effective things you can do right now:

1. Raise your voice

The most important thing is to make your voice heard by those who make the decisions that impact our lives. That means your MP and local councillors. Write to them, visit them in their surgeries, engage them on social media or at events. It’s all about strength in numbers, so ask friends, family and colleagues to join you.

Part of the challenge is raising awareness among people who are not yet engaged or feel a sense of inertia or doom. British people love talking about the weather, so that is a good way into your conversation. Mention your worries about the increasing number of storms or how the weird weather patterns are making gardening difficult. Talk about the actions you are taking. 

2. Eat a low carbon diet

Eating less meat and dairy is the best route to a low carbon diet. Globally, the meat industry generates nearly 20 per cent of man-made greenhouse gases that are accelerating climate change. If going vegetarian or vegan feels like a step too far then try to eat less meat. Choose organic and local if possible.

3. Travel sustainably

Transport is the main source of carbon dioxide and toxic air in the UK. To counter this, many people are walking more to reduce their impact on the environment. Like cycling, it is also a great way to stay active and reduce air pollution. Using public transport for longer journeys is also beneficial. It helps to free up our cities and reduce congestion. If you need to drive then consider joining an electric car club or start lift sharing with friends and colleagues. Avoid flying, if you can.

Electric cars have about half the carbon footprint of a 'traditional' car. They are extremely popular as people can plug them in at home or at the 10,000 public charging locations in the UK – which is more than the number of petrol stations. They are also cheaper to run and maintain.

4. Insulate your home

Insulation has the biggest impact on energy conservation in the home. As well as cutting your carbon footprint, it will also reduce your energy bills. Top up your loft insulation to 30cm and fill cavity walls to keep warm air in your house. Some easy DIY wins include: draft-proofing windows and doors; smoothing secondary film glazing over windows; installing a smart thermostat and setting it at 19C; and using thermal lining on curtains and black out blinds at night.

5. Green your energy

If you have some savings, consider getting rid of your gas boiler and installing a heat pump. This is what we are all going to be doing soon anyway. From the 1st of April, the UK government will be offering a grant of £5,000 towards their installation.

Other options for installing renewable energy at home include solar panels, which are a brilliant way to harness the power of the sun. The average system costs around £5,000 to install and will save you money on your bills – as well as potentially earning you cash back, for any extra electricity that you generate, which is exported  back to the grid.


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