With a new report from international scientists suggesting that climate change will radically alter weather patterns in the next thirty years, it is essential that we start a national conversation about the steps we need to take to reduce carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ by at least 2050. The report from ETH Zurich’s Crowther lab suggests that by 2050 our weather could resemble that seen in North East Spain, with summers getting warmer in Europe by 3.5C and winters warmer by 4.7C, equivalent of shifting Nottingham south by about 1000 kilometres.
Earlier today I visited school pupils in year 4 at the Djanogly Northgate Academy primary school in New Basford, who have been learning about issues around climate change and deforestation (pictured below with their School Council who asked some amazing questions!). The engagement of young people in this issue is impressive but also vital; they are the generation who will have to reap the consequences of our inaction today.
We are going to have to completely rethink the way we build residential and commercial property, with different heating arrangements and of course a significant and modal shift in our transportation as well. Electricity generation has made some good progress moving away from fossil fuels towards renewables but there is still much further to go. Our land use and ‘disposable’ culture will also need to change.
Nottingham has had a reasonably good record in local initiatives in recent times, but there is still much more needed to do in boosting recycling and providing infrastructure for electric vehicles. I’ll be asking questions not just of the local authority but nationally as well – and I hope that in Parliament we can take steps to promote international change as well. The UK accounts for just 1% of carbon emissions, so we must try to influence others, especially in country’s like Brazil where the rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate. My greatest fear is that our withdrawal from the European Union – with 500million residents – is that we lose influence in pressing our own continent to act more thoroughly and more quickly.