Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide back into the air that has not been in the atmosphere for millions of years. Increasing greenhouse gases causes global average temperatures to rise, which in turn causes many knock-on effects including heatwaves, melting ice caps, mega-floods, mega-droughts, forest fires, species extinction and extreme weather conditions. These things destroy food supplies, destabilise regions, increase airborne diseases and force people from their homes. We are seeing an increasing number of people fleeing lands that have been devastated by the climate crisis. The climate crisis is a crisis of inequality, caused by unjust economic structures and having the greatest impact on poor people, people of colour and women across the world.

The climate crisis is the inevitable result of 500 years of global extractivism and exploitation, and a system that puts profit above people. 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 just transition to an energy efficient, low carbon economy as soon as possible. The international community has accepted for a long time that climate change has great impacts for humans, but efforts to agree to legally binding emissions cuts have been disastrous.

Political squabbling and inaction from some of the biggest polluters at successive UN 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 being net zero by 2050, but this is too late. Birmingham City Council unanimously passed a motion committing to being net zero by 2030, but this needs to be backed up by strong action. If we are to have any chance of achieving this goal it is crucial for all of us 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.