Ian Collins clashes with XR member over China's role in climate change
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The UK is certainly feeling the effects of warming temperatures but is yet to be as badly affected as other parts of the world. So what could be in store for the UK if we don’t act now?
Europe has seen some of the worst climate changes in recent years over the course of this summer, with devastating flooding and wildfires causing major loss of life and severe damage to property and infrastructure.
Things are only likely to get worse unless the world takes immediate action to change the effects of the climate crisis, following the alarming UN IPCC report which described the current situation as “code red for humanity”.
The report warned extreme heat, droughts, flooding, and rising sea levels will all be problems within the coming years if humanity doesn’t act now.
The document also says temperature changes on land and sea are unequivocally a result of human influence.
Some 40 billion tonnes of CO2 are emitted by humanity each year – and the experts believe 500 billion more would leave the earth with only a one in two chance of managing to stay under 1.5C.
The consequences of going past 1.5C over a period of years would be unwelcome in a world that has already experienced a huge rise in extreme events with a temperature rise since pre-industrial times of 1.1C.
Intense, possibly unsurvivable heatwaves are likely to become a consequence of climate change, as well as rapid heavy rainfall, leading to flooding worse than we’ve recently witnessed across Europe.
What will climate change look like near me?
Abdul-Razak Saeed, the Rainforest Alliance’s global theme lead for climate change, says the effects of climate change are already here in the UK – and it could get worse.
He told Express.co.uk: “The UK is already experiencing its share in climate change disruptions such as increased rainfall, flooding, and recorded to have become warmer.
“If no real and serious commitment is channelled to addressing human-induced GHG emissions into the atmosphere, the UK will continue to experience more intense and frequent climate disruptions, and these will impact the environment (stresses, flooding, erosion, etc), infrastructure, agriculture, business, and society.
“Heatwaves which will impact the vulnerable such as the elderly, children and sick people can become a reality in future.
“According to the 2020 UK Climate report, 2020 was wetter, warmer and sunnier than average relative to historic climate records available over the last century.
“As warming increases in the UK, there is a real threat that there will be crop losses through heat stress and increased flooding, rise of sea level affecting homes and property, displacing people, and causing loss of lives.”
Maps from Climate Central show rising sea levels will be among some of the biggest changes to the UK.
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They show parts of the east of England and the south are expected to be underwater by 2100 if significant efforts are not made to reduce emissions.
The IPCC report evaluated under current scenarios, the seas could rise above the likely range, going up to 2m by the end of this century and up to 5m by 2150.
Mr Saeed continued: “It is important to note though that climate impacts across the UK will not be the same everywhere but rather localised depending on geographical factors such as topography.
“Lag between emissions and impacts for instance carbon stays in the atmosphere for 100 years.”
Areas in the south of the UK are already seeing frequent heatwaves during the summer months, whereas in the north and Scotland, temperatures are increasing, though they have not yet reached unbearable levels.
By 2070, the Met Office projects summers across the UK will be between 1C and 6C warmer than they are now.
Can climate change be reversed?
Mr Saeed explains the time is now for action on climate change.
He explained: “We need urgent and drastic action. Immediate action means a reduction in precarious future events – frequency and intensity reduction.
“The climate effects we are experiencing now is from the emissions we put into the atmosphere in the past.
“Transformational change is required to reverse the effects of climate change in the longer term but also limit the damage that will be felt in the immediate few years.
“To reverse the effects of climate change we need stringent mitigation plans and actions but also adaptation efforts that limit the damage that is still upon us based on past emissions.”
The IPCC report backs Mr Saeed’s claims – prompting world leaders to take immediate action following the COP26 summit in Glasgow this Autumn.
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