This year hasn’t exactly seen as much progress in the battle against climate change as we wouldn’t have expected, or desired. While furious debates centred around the likes of Greta Thunberg and other activists have given rise to more awareness, it’s the lack of action – in comparison to words – that’s now leaving us in a tough spot.
But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of it all, here are the main points you need to understand:
- The use of natural gas is surging globally, and the emissions from fossil fuels are reaching records that are undeniably sustainable for Earth
- A worldwide decline in coal emissions in 2019 was redirected by an increase in emissions from oil and natural gas on a global scale.
- Any further growth in these areas is something we simply cannot afford to risk, as pointed out by Rob Jackson from Stanford University.
What’s gone wrong this decade?
Since the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature across the world has risen over one degree Celsius. It’s now on track to reach 1.5 degrees more in the next 20 years. Back when the 2015 Paris Agreement was solidified by world leaders, with intentions to combat these temperature increases, there were hopes that stopping the rise was realistic. Now, it’s potentially unattainable.
The world has seen several natural or climate-related disasters too. From hugely rapid ice melts through to raging fires in the Arctic, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil and California – coming back from these tragedies is already hard enough. And then there’s the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, among the onslaught of heatwaves, droughts and hurricanes. The world is a scary place right now.
By the end of 2019, we’ll see global carbon emissions likely to hit 37 billion tonnes. That’s a whole other record for a third year running, and may just set us off-course from combating global warming as a whole.
What’s the good news?
All doom and gloom aside, there is some promising news that the growth of emissions in 2018 was actually slower than the last two. This is partly because of solar power uptake and developments across renewable energy, of which are both seen as a more cost-effective alternative.
But it’s important to note that while 2019 did in fact give us something to smile about in the energy field, there is no room for error moving forward. We need to continue to make change and combat the rise of emissions before any kind of futureu agreement is also unattainable. The time for action is now. So they say.
But in all seriousness, the last decade has brought more attention to climate change than ever before; think social media, politicians, Greta Thunberg (that name again) and more tragedies than we can count on our fingers. It’s all shaping us up for a new generation that’s far more engaged with the advancements and understanding required to combat the climate change battle.
The truth is, there’s no one person to blame or no one event to point figures at. This is an accumulative effect, and in order to conquer it, it will take more than “You stole my childhood” blasts and speculations to fix it.
But let’s hope that the new decade from 2020 onwards brings with it the kind of awareness and action we need to really make an impact.