7 urgent issues surrounding... Climate Action 

We all know that climate change is one of the biggest problems facing our planet, but what are the facts, and who is making a difference?

1. the defining issue of our time

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.” – United Nations

2. It’s a gas THING

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that’s essential to our lives. We exhale CO2. Plants ingest it. Plus it absorbs and emits thermal radiation. In small doses, it helps keep everything alive. Without it (and other greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide and methane), Earth would be far too cold to inhabit, somewhere around -18°C. Our over-consumption of fossil fuels, however, has disrupted the carbon cycle, creating extreme weather events, sea-level-rise, and a change in crop growth and water systems.

3. A planetary problem

Statements about climate change make terrifying soundbites: “Climate change is a real and undeniable threat to our entire civilization” (Global Goals). But they’re more than just sensational headlines. Here’s some of the science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
  • Global emissions of CO2 have increased by almost 50% since 1990
  • From 1880-2012, the average global temperature increased by 0.85°C
  • From 1901- 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19cm as oceans expanded due to warming and ice melted
  • The Arctic’s sea ice extent has shrunk in every successive decade since 1979, with 1.07 million km² of ice loss every decade
  • Average sea level rise is predicted to be 24-30cm by 2065, and 40-63cm by 2100

4. The hardest hit

In the last 30 years, natural disasters have increased three-fold, and economic losses have ballooned. Small island developing states are often hit hardest, ironically without having contributed much to climate change. In 2017, after Hurricane Irma (the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded), followed by Category 5 Storm Maria tearing through the Caribbean, the island of Barbuda lost 90% of its homes and buildings. Electrical power lines and the island’s infrastructure were obliterated. On a visit to Barbuda, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, “I have just witnessed a level of devastation that I have never seen in my life. There is a clear link between the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, the temperature of the water and the intensity of the rainstorms.”

5. Climate opportunity?

But where there’s disaster, there’s also opportunity. In 2017, as a planet, we lost a staggering $320 billion to weather-related disasters. However, it’s estimated that strong climate action could create more than $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. The necessary changes also provide an opportunity to modernise our infrastructure, create new jobs and promote greater global prosperity. Sounds good to us…

6. Flying sustainably

One of the collaborations cited by the 2018 Global SDG Awards for sustainability was Virgin Atlantic’s work with New Zealand-born LanzaTech to develop sustainable aviation fuel. LanzaTech's novel approach captures carbon-rich waste industrial gases that are normally pumped into the atmosphere. Microbes are used to turn the gases into low-emission jet fuel. “The future of our planet depends upon solutions which defy our current definition of energy sources and how energy should be utilized or deployed,” say LanzaTech. “It is a global opportunity to challenge our assumptions and innovate to change the rules.”

7. Green searching

Another company making sustainable waves is green search engine Ecosia. You search; they get ad revenue, which they use to fund the planting of trees. Since the company was founded in 2009 by German entrepreneur Christian Kroll, they’ve won over 7 million users and planted over 51 million trees. Their goal is to plant 1 billion by 2020. Ecosia servers are powered on 100% renewable energy and the company has laid down the gauntlet to Google: “Each search with Ecosia removes roughly 1kg of CO2 from the air. Remember that Google could absorb 15% of all emissions worldwide if it adopted our business model.”