Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide back into the air that has not been in the atmosphere for millions of years. As it turns out, this is bad news for us because CO2 is a greenhouse gas, increasing greenhouse gases causes global average temperature to rise, which in turn causes many knock on effects including heat-waves, melting ice caps, mega-floods, mega-droughts, forest fires, and species extinction. We are also likely to see an increasing number of ‘climate refugees’ as people flee lands that have been devastated by climate change.Birmingham was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and has been a major industrial city for the last 200 years. Our carbon footprint during this time was immense. We therefore have a historic responsibility to end the use of fossil fuels and make a transition to an energy efficient, low carbon economy as soon as possible.
Birmingham currently has the worst air pollution outside of London, this along with increased temperatures causing the ‘urban heat island effect’ and a predicted increase in extreme weather such as tornadoes and flooding mean that the city faces immense social, economic and environmental challenges if we fail to deal with global warming. It does not help that the councils of the West Midlands are investing pension funds in fossil fuel companies at a time when they should be making more ethical investments in sustainable energy. The international community has accepted for a long time that climate change has great impacts for human problem, but efforts to agree to legally binding emissions cuts have been disastrous.
Political squabbling and inaction from some of the biggest polluters, most notably the US and China, at successive summits, has left us with precious little time to reduce our emissions before we reach tipping points that will make runaway climate change a certainty. We urgently need strong leadership and a global deal on emissions before it is too late. The UK government has committed to an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with the Climate Change Act 2008 and Birmingham City Council has its own emissions target of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2027. If we are to have any chance of achieving this goal it is crucial for all of us, especially young people, to get involved. It’s easy to set targets. It’s up to us to make sure our politicians deliver on their promises.
Read our “solution” to find out what can be done about this.