A new survey, commissioned by Christian Aid, has found that 71% of the UK public believed that climate change was a more important issue than Brexit. Two thirds of those asked beleieved that Bexit should be at the top of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s political agenda, while 60% felt that the government was not doing enough to tackle climate change.
In his inaugural speech as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said that Britain was “leading the world in the battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation”.
Meanwhile, wildfires are spreading across Arctic regions including Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and northern Scandinavia. The fires are normal for this time of year in the Arctic, and are generally caused by lightning strike, but temperatures are unusually high this year, which is making the fires much larger than usual. In fact, the plumes of smoke from the fires are visible from space!
According to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), the fires released 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide last month. That’s roughly equivalent to Sweden’s annual CO2 emissions.
Temperatures in the Arctic have been rising much faster than the global average, and exposed, defrosted and dried out peat, coupled with very dry conditions and strong winds, has caused the fires to spread.
These fires are a symptom of the way conditions are changing in a warming world. As it gets warmer, the effects become more pronounced. When the particulate matter from the smoke falls to earth and settles, much of it will land on ice, causing it to darken and so become more able to absorb heat. This makes the ice more vulnerable to melting and so the ‘feedback loop’ continues.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles, speaking at a dinner for Commonwealth Foreign Ministers said, "I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival,"
Last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that CO2 emissions needed to peak in 2020 in order to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C over pre-Industrial levels by 2100. Current plans in place around the world to reduce emissions are heading towards a 3C rise by 2100, so there is a long way to go in a very short time.
Increasing pressure from young people and the public in general is starting to make governments take more of an interest in climate change, but there still needs to be much more in the way of action to ensure that we really begin to tackle climate change.