Although the reinstatement of the moratorium on fracking was welcome news and we have one less threat to our environment, we still have the even worse issue of climate change to contend with. In the current energy crisis, there are still too many MPs who think that fracking is an answer to our energy problems and are prepared to disregard the fact that it is the worst thing possible in an age of climate change.
Some MPs and many of the public seem to be still unaware that we are now at ‘Code Red’ and facing a climate emergency. A recent legal case declared that the Government’s Net Zero strategy, which sets out plans to decarbonise the economy, doesn’t meet the Government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act.
According to a report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), temperatures in Europe have increased at more than twice the global average in the last 30 years and the effects are already being seen. If warming continues, exceptional heat, wildfires, floods and other climate breakdown outcomes will affect society, economies and ecosystems more frequently and more severely.
Since the original warning in 1992, there has been a roughly 40% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions leading to increases in global heating. This is despite numerous written warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the recent scientists’ warning of a climate emergency with nearly 15,000 signatories from 158 countries. The consequences of global heating are becoming increasingly extreme and outcomes, such as a global collapse of society, is now feasible.
Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of severe weather events across the world because of interconnected planetary processes. The overall warming trend is changing precipitation patterns, raising sea levels and changing the jet streams. For example, rapid Arctic warming has made the summer jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere change its normal pattern, causing the heat waves, flooding, droughts and other disasters that we have been experiencing. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense, compounding damage and shortening available recovery time. It is likely to increase extreme risks such as simultaneous global failure of crop yields across multiple major food producing regions.
We are now regularly seeing events and disasters that were previously rare. Unfortunately, these disasters are more prone to harm poor people in low-income regions of the world, who have contributed least to the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions and who are least able to afford the recovery costs. In summer 2022, one third of Pakistan was flooded, displacing 33 million people, including 16 million children. Serious and simultaneous disasters are testing society’s limits as they greatly reduce resilience and ability to cope with other crises.
Immediate mitigation and adaptation is needed. In addition to protecting nature and forests, we need to eliminate fossil fuel emissions and explore more effective carbon capture strategies to remove historical emissions that are driving climate changes. We need to see investment in innovation and climate finance and subsidies for renewables.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented trend in scientists speaking out on the climate crisis. Their words, backed up by scientific evidence, should be heeded and be a driving force for policy shift and public education. We need more people speaking out on climate and other environmental issues. We need to raise awareness and get everyone to take the climate emergency seriously.
Let’s hope that in 2023, we make major strides in addressing climate change.
For more information about Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth, visit Sherwood Forest FoE on Facebook or email email@example.com.
Pauline Meechan, Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth