There is growing realisation that we’re facing an era of environmental crisis, headlined by the climate emergency.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced dramatically by 2030 in order to keep warming below 1.5 °C. Above that impacts become increasingly dangerous and unmanageable. Their latest IPCC report in August 2021 states that “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”
The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity produced an updated report on the state of global biodiversity in 2019, stating that biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, while the pressures behind this are intensifying.
The UK is already experiencing changing climate, including periods of drought and severe weather. The State of Nature report in 2019 documents how human impacts are driving sweeping changes in wildlife in the UK. In 2020, the independent Climate Change Committee launched a website on UK climate risks; their latest assessment of UK climate risks published in June 2021 highlights that further impacts in the UK are inevitable.
Although there is uncertainty about the severity and timing of further impacts, it is essential to take concerted action to reduce emissions and adapt where we can.