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Climate change impacts are happening now

15 May 2019

Blog

Blog from Matt Pluke, Anglian Water Climate Change and Carbon Manager

 

Climate change impacts are happening now.

 

It is widely accepted that human activity, particularly the combustion of fossil fuels, is changing our climate. This change is resulting in extreme and dangerous weather events – for example the global heat wave last summer, expansive wildfires and deadly hurricanes.  It is for this reason that the nations of the world have committed to act to keep global temperatures well below 2.0°C above pre-industrial times and to endeavour to limit them to 1.5°C.  For this to become a reality we all have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050.  To be clear, this means emissions have to stop – reducing them is not sufficient.  ‘Net zero’ means that any remaining emissions must be balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

 

This is a crucial time in the global effort to tackle climate change.

Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels.  In the last ten years, pledges to reduce emissions by the countries of the world have reduced the forecast of global warming from above 4°C by the end of the century to around 3°C.  This is clearly not enough.  Scientists tell us that a rise of even 2°C will be catastrophic.  For example, at 2°C more than 40million people living in urban areas will be exposed to severe drought and the world will have lost virtually all of it’s coral reefs.

 

The UK urgently needs to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050……at the latest.

Here in the UK the changing climate is increasing the risk of flooding and drought.  Our government is currently considering whether to set a national target to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050.  It is essential that this happens.  The water industry has already committed to achieve net zero emissions for the sector by 2030. Water companies are energy-intensive businesses and recognise that they have an important contribution to make in tackling the causes of climate change.  This ambitious target will be achieved through measures such as greater water efficiency, buying green energy as well as generating renewable energy, planting trees, restoring peatland and working with customers.  We know we can’t do this alone.