SIOBHAN BAILLIE: We need global consensus on climate change

The Stroud MP’s weekly column.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was published this week. It made for uncomfortable reading as we face large scale climate change unless concerted global action is taken.

It was called a ‘Code Red for Humanity’ with a warning the 1.5 degrees rise in world temperatures could be reached by 2040.

Sea levels might rise by just under two metres by the end of this century. Melting Arctic ice, acidified oceans and extreme weather are just some of the problems we face.

However, the report also made it clear there is hope in limiting this damage if we can cut the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.

The fact is we need global consensus on this issue – something the UK will attempt to achieve at the COP26 conference we are holding in Glasgow this autumn. This is a difficult task that many previous COPs have not succeeded in and so it is an important event for all of us.

The way forward is to recognise the problem, cut emissions radically and for the world to embark on this in a joint way. Everyone needs to work in partnership to fund technological solutions to limit the damage while making sure we repair it and soak up the carbon dioxide we have put in the atmosphere.

This sort of joint action has happened before with the CFC crisis in the 1980s. We stopped the use of the chemical and the ozone layer has started to repair.

But there is a problem here. Many developing nations quite rightly say to countries like the UK. ‘Well, you polluted the world getting rich, but now you lecture us we shouldn’t be doing the same’.

Developed countries need to help other countries achieve their emissions targets. They can share the technology that already exists, and new solutions coming online.

However, unless the big countries accept this report, we will have a challenge. The UK is now responsible for around 1% of CO2 emissions and we are making huge changes to go further. China is responsible for 27%. Other countries like the US, Russia and India are also big emitters.

There is no question that individuals, families and businesses can also make a difference too. All over Stroud, the Valleys and Vale this is happening. We are making personal changes within our lives, homes, travel, food and local environment. No act is too small. They all add up.

I do not accept we are facing an apocalypse, nor that attacking people or businesses is helpful to the cause. We have the means to change our ways and prioritise our planet to safeguard future humanity. This report is a sobering must read to achieve the necessary call to action.

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