Written by Amina Ghezal |
In a recent landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), world leading climate experts have warned that levels of global warming over the next 12 years would determine the future of the planet’s ecosystem. If global temperature rises are not kept to a maximum of 1.5C, the risks of extreme poverty for hundreds of millions of people as a result of droughts, floods and extreme temperatures would increase.
“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”
Implementing the proposed policies, which include a reduction of Carbon pollution by 45% by 2030 and extensive reforestation, will likely prevent the complete destruction of the world’s corals, unburden the arctic and reduce climate change perils on the global level.
Who are the IPCC?
The IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), is the United Nation’s landmark report for assessing the science related to climate change. It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific knowledge of climate change, its related future impact and strategies for adaptation and mitigation as noted in the IPCC Factsheet. The recent report of the IPCC released in October shouted the extreme necessity to reach the 1.5c temperature target within the upcoming decades.
However, the warnings provided in the report may not be enough to inspire political action. Amidst fears of the text of the report being watered down by oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia that are reluctant to consider more ambitious cuts, Trump’s climate change denial rings a striking note. His withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate agreement seems a negative indicator.
What You Can Do:
Despite global turmoil, it is worth remembering what the student body can do to affect positive change.
Support Campus Initiatives
The “Green Impact” initiative is dedicated to green and sustainable actions where staff and students co-operate in order to improve sustainability on campus, reduce negative footprint on the environment and build green living habits and eco-positive policies. This initiative includes various activities such as Zero Waste Society, Penryn Produce and the Green Forum.
Take Collective Action
As a large and impactful demographic, students have the voting power to apply considerable pressure on politicians and large businesses to implement greener policies and sustainable business practises.
According to the IPCC, the biggest obstacle to the taking of “pretty hard choices” (Jim Skea, a co-chair of the IPCC working group on mitigation) is political resistance. Holding our politicians to account and voting with our wallets when it comes to businesses would serve as a significant counterpoint.
Nobody is suggesting that we should all vote Green, but pushing our interests within our respective parties, regardless of our positions on the political spectrum, is perfectly reasonable.
Consider a Change in Diet
According to a report headed by Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Purchasing plastic-free products and locally grown vegetables supports more sustainable business models.
Implement Smaller Changes at Home
Simple measures such draft-proofing doors and insulating windows on a large scale would see a big drop in heating costs. As students, this is seldom up to us, but it is within our power to use less hot water and not to abuse our fixed monthly energy bills.
Buy fewer unneeded things and consume less. Stay disciplined in recycling wherever possible. Demand a low carbon option in everything you consume, from clothes to food. Re-use things whenever you can, and make use of Penryn and Falmouth’s charity shops – you never know when you could find your new favourite jacket at a fraction of the carbon cost.
Opt to walk or cycle where possible instead of the last minute morning dash in your flatmate’s car. Taking public transport such as the bus (when it comes) is also a good way of cutting down on carbon emissions.
The involvement of students is vital to the development of the environment’s wellbeing and the reduction of pollution and environmental degradation. Although such micro initiatives may seem tiny and unlikely to reach the doors of politicians or rulers, it is important to bear in mind that even small-scale eco-friendly projects will positively reflect environmental safety and generate noticeable positive impact.