Climate Change and the IWC
Climate change is having a severe impact around the world. It causes changes in temperature and weather systems. These changes lead to a broad range of negative impacts on the environment and humans.
At the Isle of Wight Council, we realised the importance of tackling climate change. In 2007 we signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change.
Further information on the Nottingham Declaration:
Climate Emergency Declaration
At the Isle of Wight Council in July 2019 we declared a climate emergency. We stated an aim to achieve net zero emissions across the Island by 2030.
We are currently finalising our Climate and Environment Strategy. This strategy will outline the Isle of Wight’s options for a pathway to net zero emissions.
Climate change explained
Climate is the average weather experienced in a certain area over a specific period. This is usually 30 years when looking at climate change. Climate is measured in aspects of weather, like average temperature and rainfall.
Climate change is a process that occurs naturally on our planet as the planet moves into and out of ice ages. This causes the planet to warm and cool. In this past this has usually happened very slowly over millennia. Over the past 150 years, human activity has interfered with the planet’s atmosphere. This caused the climate to shift abruptly and have a devastating impact on our planet.
Climate change created by human activity
Human activity produces greenhouse gases. These form a layer around the planet that acts like a blanket, trapping heat from the sun within the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gases are produced, the thicker the ‘blanket’ becomes. This traps in more heat and causes the planet to become warmer.
The increase in temperature then causes climate change. Yet, this does not take place at the same rate around the world. Some areas are becoming warmer much faster, other areas are experiencing much hotter and drier conditions. Other areas are seeing changes such as increased rainfall and flooding.
The greenhouse gases produced by humans usually consist of carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide produced is a product of burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, and fuel for vehicles. Common fossil fuels used are:
Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Other greenhouse gases are often expressed as ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ (CO2e). This means that the impact other greenhouse gases have on the atmosphere is converted into the impact they would have if that gas was turned into carbon dioxide.
Other greenhouse gases caused by human activity include:
- Methane (produced by agriculture),
- Nitrous oxide (produced by agriculture),
- CFCs (used in aerosols),
- HCFCs (used in refrigeration).
Another greenhouse gas is water vapour. Water vapour has always been present in our planet’s atmosphere. As the planet becomes warmer surface water evaporates at a faster rate. This means that there is more water in the atmosphere. This can lead to further global warming. It can also increase the risk of extreme weather events. For example, hurricanes occurring more frequently and becoming stronger.
Facts about climate change
Today, there is over 99% scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of climate change. Article: 'No doubt left' about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts | Climate change | The Guardian.
The scientific evidence leaves us in no doubt that human activity is the main cause of the warming observed over the last 100 years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that:
- The Earth’s surface has warmed by about 1°C on average since pre-industrial levels.
- Global warming is likely to reach at least 1.5°C by 2052 if temperatures continue to increase at their current rate.
- We are highly likely to experience more than 3°C of warming. Possibly up to 6.2°C, by 2100 if policies and laws around the world to tackle climate change are not changed drastically in the next decade.
- Over 33 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are produced by human activity each year.
- This has increased from around 5 billion tonnes annually in the 1950s.
- Atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now higher than at any time in at least the last 800,000 years. It is 50% higher than its level before the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s.