Climate Change is firmly embedded in the list of issues facing our planet in the 21st Century. The term ‘climate change’ refers to any fluctuation in climate, whether as a result of human or natural causes. Natural factors include the changes in the Earth’s orbit, tilt of the Earth’s axis, volcanism or solar activity to name but a few that can affect long-term weather patterns. However, there is strong agreement in the scientific community that natural factors alone can not account for the accelerated trends in global climate.
Status of Current Climate Change Indicators
Atmospheric carbon dioxide currently rests just below the looming threshold of 400 parts per million at 398.5 ppm.
Sea level is set to rise by a third of a metre by the end of the century, currently rising at 3.17 mm per year. The first official instance of forced migration due to sea level rise occurred way back in 2009, Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea.
The global average temperature has already risen by 0.8C. 2C is considered to be the temperature threshold at which the global environment will suffer irreversible damage. This threshold is predicted to be surpassed by the end of this century, and if we carry on blowing the carbon budget at current rates the 2C threshold could be reached within just two to three decades.
The 2013 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated anthropogenic (human) emissions as a direct cause of global warming, which causes changes in global climate. It is important to note that whilst interrelated climate change and global warming are not one and the same; the phenomena of ‘global warming’ is a result of the changes in composition of greenhouse gases, which in turn causes climate change; changes in long-term weather patterns such as, rainfall, temperature or humidity.
By ZooFari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The responsibility for tackling climate change falls on the shoulders of every human on the planet, be they world leaders; or CEOs of the top FTSE-100, or Ban Ki-Moon, or Ben van Beurden, or any and every individual living in Richmond upon Thames. This blog will inform you of the climate change debate, climate change science and commentate on the fight against climate change within South West London.
In 2006, Richmond upon Thames Council signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. In 2008 the council adopted the Climate Change Strategy. In short, this provides an approach to understand energy use and greenhouse emitters within Richmond upon Thames and the impact that climate change will have and is having on the borough. The council expresses its commitment to leading by example, as may be expected by one of the most affluent boroughs in London, and to have the highest rated green credentials out of all the London boroughs.
The council is targeting energy efficiency and low carbon technologies. Priority is given to low carbon projects and pay back given to projects that are successful in encouraging ‘green’ behaviour.
The council offers free loft and cavity wall insulation, or at least at a discounted rate. The cost of parking is now related to CO2 emissions and a Go Green online service has been launched in order to educate residents, business and schools on how they can make a difference.
The Schools Environment Forum has been setup to engage pupils in the climate change debate and how to reduce their carbon footprint. Efforts are being made to support businesses and schools to encourage their employees and pupils to travel smarter with the Green Travel Plan. These are a few of the ways in which Richmond council are trying to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint. Lastly, and very importantly, the council has vowed to do all it can to stop the Heathrow Airport expansion.
Communications Officer with SWLEN 2014 (Volunteer)