The North East must play its part in tackling climate change say experts

  • Video report by Jonny Blair

The North East must play its part in helping to reverse severe damage to the environment.

That's the message from climate change experts, who say small changes in all our lives will help contribute to averting a worldwide catastrophe.

It comes on the day a landmark study into the effects of global warming, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reveals that humanity is now in a 'code red' situation, meaning the time to act is now.

Durham County Council was one of the first councils to declare a climate emergency.

The local authority made the announcement in 2019 alongside a pledge to reduce carbon emissions from its operations by 80 per cent by 2030 in a bid to help County Durham become carbon neutral.

On Monday Cllr Mark Wilkes said the climate crisis was at the top of the council's agenda.

"Climate change is now the number one priority for us as a council," he said.

"Every single element of everything we do is impacted by climate change, and it's absolutely essential that we, as a council, tackle this issue as quickly as we possibly can."

Reaction from MPs

On Twitter, Labour's City of Durham MP Mary Foy said: "Our planet is dying and we need urgent and radical action to save it.

"We need a Green New Deal to transform our economy and place the environment and equality at the heart of our society."

Fellow Labour MP, Kate Osborne, who represents Jarrow, said on Twitter: "Today I am launching my ‘Crusade against Climate Change’ campaign where I will be working with the next generation across Jarrow constituency to see how we can work towards a greener, more sustainable future."

She said more details were soon to follow.

And Labour MP for York Central, Rachael Maskall called the report "devastating", adding: "Why is the Government fiddling when the world is burning, flooding, melting and becoming toxic.

"We have no time left, action is needed now to avert climate and environmental devastation."

But the government's Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it should be a "wake up call" but the UK targets are "fairly robust".

He added: "I think the job that we have is to try and bring other people across the world to the net zero agenda and I think that's beginning to happen. And we need a much stronger response from the international community.

"I think our targets, if we can stick to them, can really help the planet, frankly, to avoid the catastrophe that's described."

What did the study show?

The paper released on Monday, August 9, drew on more than 14,000 scientific papers and has found it is “unequivocal” that human activity is warming the world.

Rapid and widespread changes to the land, atmosphere and oceans have occurred – from temperature increases to sea level rises – that are unprecedented for many centuries or even many thousands of years.

One of the report’s lead authors, Dr Tamsin Edwards from King’s College London, said: “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the 1.5C target will be beyond reach.”

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres described the report as a “code red for humanity”.

Speaking at an IPCC press conference on Monday, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, warned “it is time to get serious” and that “no-one is safe” during the climate crisis.

The report released on Monday is the first part of the sixth global assessment of climate science to be undertaken since the IPCC was formed in 1988.