It’s Code Red for humanity…  and local people can make a difference.

The Independent Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change has been billed as a ‘Code Red for humanity’.  The report has sparked calls by Harrogate and Knaresborough’s MP, Andrew Jones, for a renewed drive by every local person to think about reducing their carbon footprint.

Housing, heating and transport make up huge proportion of our carbon emissions – by some estimates as much as two-thirds of all emissions.  The IPCC found:

  • Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900.
  • The past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850
  • The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971
  • Human influence is “very likely” (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice
  • It is “virtually certain” that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe.

And the IPCC predicts future sea level rises devastating coastal nations and communities, even more frequent extreme weather events, more fires caused by high temperatures and the Arctic becoming practically ice-free in at least one year before 2050.

Andrew Jones commented: “We are seeing more extreme weather at home and in Europe.  Fires, flash floods, unprecedented heat – these are all now regular events on our doorsteps.  The evidence that climate change is real, down to human activity and an imminent threat is overwhelming.

“To many it seems as though the problem is just too big – that it needs governments and international organisations to sort it out.  There is clearly a role for government and global action, but it is not the whole story.  We can make a difference as individuals too.  It is the aggregate of all our individual decisions alongside government action that is so powerful and can be the change we need.

“As housing, heating and transport are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases we can all change our habits and join the fight against this ‘Code Red’ emergency.  We can drive less, turn our heating down by a degree, recycle more, turn lights off and so on.  The effort we make to change our individual habits can make a huge difference when measured collectively.

Mr Jones continued: “Change is not easy and questions must be considered in different ways. So as climate change forces its way into our lives, perhaps the question is not whether more sustainable transport may be an inconvenience for some but to look at the bigger picture of global warming and how reducing that will be a far greater convenience in the medium term.  It might be time too for councils to say it is no longer acceptable for people to put recycling in the general waste and look at how legislation can be used to increase recycling rates.  We cannot stay the same, doing as we do now and expect a different better result that we are currently getting.

“We must also turn active eyes to the other side of the equation – carbon absorption.  There are plans for carbon capture and storage.  We have impressive programmes to plant more trees to absorb carbon dioxide.  These need to be brought forward rapidly and innovative and creative ways sought to increase our tree cover further.”