Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. Shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, fires raging across vast expanses of forest and extreme heat waves and drought, coupled with rapid biodiversity and ecosystem loss, combining to create a mass extinction event that threatens or severely impacts all life on our planet; the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.
Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
Climate change refers to the long-term change in the planet's average weather patterns (such as temperature and rainfall) and changes in the frequency and severity of these patterns. As a result of warming temperatures and changes in rainfall, we are seeing impacts around the world such as rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, and melting ice caps and extreme weather events.
What is climate change?
The warming of our climate is caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
The gases trap heat by forming a blanket around the Earth - like the glass of a greenhouse.
These gases stay in the atmosphere for many years. As they build up, the planet's temperature rises. Then, as the world warms up, feedback-loops can accelerate warming: melting polar ice means less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space.
Greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - and by cutting down forests. Greenhouse-gas levels have rocketed in the last 100 years.
What's the difference between zero carbon and carbon neutral?
In February 2019, Hastings Borough Council declared a climate emergency and committed to preparing a report, outlining how to reduce carbon emissions and work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Zero carbon means that no carbon emissions are being produced from a product or service for example zero-carbon electricity could be provided by a 100% renewable energy supplier.
Carbon neutral means that while some emissions are still being generated by a building/ process these emissions are being offset somewhere else making the overall new emissions zero.
The latest climate change science
For more information about the science behind climate change, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases updates on the latest climate change science and what this means for the world, and in the UK the Committee on Climate Change provides independent advice to government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change.
Impacts of climate change we are already seeing and experiencing.
Climate change has profound implications for people and the natural world, and as such its impacts are already being felt around the world now and will continue to increase in severity and likelihood in the future. For example, the past five years (2015-2019) were the five warmest years globally on record. Climate change affects many of the social and environmental factors affecting our health - including clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
For further information about weather and climate change, take a look at the following websites:
In Hastings we have also felt the impacts of a changing climate. We have experienced flooding and unseasonable extreme weather events in the last few years and we are likely to see more extreme weather events including increased number of storms, flooding, and hotter, drier summers. These, in turn, impact our communities, homes, businesses and the infrastructure of the town.