The world is heating up – last year was the joint hottest ever on record. If temperatures keep rising at their current rates, by the end of the century the planet could be a dangerous 3 degrees warmer than in pre-industrial times.
For the Tonight series, meteorologist and weather presenter Laura Tobin has been asking: what part can we all play in helping to reduce the planet’s warming?
Last week saw Storm Christoph sweep across the country bringing widespread and destructive misery. Thousands of homes were affected. Many were evacuated as rain caused devastating flooding and record high river levels across England and Wales.
These weather events are becoming all too familiar – and 2020 was another year of extremes and records.
We saw the wettest February on record and the most rainfall in a single day happened in October, while the August heat wave rivalled the infamous summer of 1976.
And if predictions are correct, flooding will happen all too often in the years to come. Most scientists believe that climate change is to blame for this increase in extreme weather events.
Climate change is changing the risk of extreme weather. It's loading the dice, if you will, so the extreme rainfall, extreme temperatures are more likely than they would have been if we didn't have this human-caused climate change.
In May 2020 land by the cliff’s edge near Eastchurch Gap on the Isle of Sheppey suddenly fell away, causing a road and eventually a house to collapse. Edd Cane lives nearest to the house that fell into the sea.
In front of me there was a house and the road went down around the corner. And then there was the cliff ... I’ve got to leave my wife here and the dog and I don’t know whether I’m coming home to a bungalow or not.
As with many other parts of the UK coastline that are at risk from coastal erosion, there are no plans to protect this part of the Isle of Sheppey.
Coastlines have always been worn down by the sea – it’s a natural process. But scientists believe that climate change is accelerating coastal erosion by making the weather worse and the seas rougher. At the moment there are around 100,000 homes at risk of Coastal erosion and by the 2080s 1.5 million homes will be at risk of flooding.
Climate change experts say that it’s going to take a huge coordinated global effort to stop temperatures rising by 3 degrees Celsius.
The challenge now is to stop global temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius. To do it, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions need to be zero – meaning that they need to drop by 12 million tonnes every single year until 2050.
For us, it means big changes to our lifestyles – cutting back on our meat and dairy intake, our use of cars and flying, the amount of stuff we consume and also how we heat our homes.
In November, Boris Johnson announced a ‘radical’ and ‘green revelation’ 10-point plan to reduce the UK's net carbon output to zero by 2050. It included a raft of measures to cut the carbon footprints of homes and business, and a promise of 250 thousand new green jobs. The plan also moved up both a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030 from 2040 and proposed investment into new carbon-capture technology.
I think we’re taking the climate change situation, the climate crisis very seriously. But, at the same time, we’ve got to do what is achievable. Sometimes people say, “Well, we can go to net zero by 2025,” [but] that wouldn’t be achievable. We feel that , this is something that we can do.
The question from many is whether reducing global warming is really possible. And the answer, at the moment, is that it’s too early to say. But if every one of us contributes by making small changes, then we can all make a difference.
To find out more, watch Going Green: Save Money? on ITV at 7:30pm or on the ITV Hub.