With UK temperature records being smashed in July, there can now be no doubt that climate change is not something any longer for the future but a present and clear issue right now.
Human activity is a major contributor to the recent escalation in extreme weather activity and the statistics paint a worrying picture.
Days with the mercury hitting over 40 degrees C in the UK are no longer set to be a rarity as the Earth warms. Heatwaves are set to occur more often and stay around for longer. Most of the hottest days ever recorded have happened in the last 20 years or so and it is a pattern that is, unfortunately, set to continue.
It was extremely disappointing, therefore, to see the candidates vying to be the next Tory leader and our next Prime Minister, barely mention climate change and net zero targets during campaign appearances. Rising temperatures and more common extreme weather events barely got a mention and, even then, it was only to try and downplay what is a very serious situation.
Without prompt and clear action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rebuild our biodiversity and change our lifestyles, the problems will only get worse. Living in a country where buildings, infrastructure and transport connection are not designed for these conditions will require massive changes to our homes and places of work just to keep pace.
This Summer has really been a wake up call when it comes to taking care of our environment and our climate.
Governments in all nations and of all political persuasions now need to provide leadership and dynamism. We should be taking this as seriously as we did the Covid pandemic and far more time, energy and financial resources need to be committed. Now is not the time to consider making backward steps.
As individuals and communities, we can all play our part in tackling the climate crisis too.
Here are five things we can all, as individuals, focus on to do our bit:
Keep the pressure on. Campaigning on climate change is already making a difference to the thinking and policies of governments, business and other organisations. People power really does work and by taking a little time to write to your local councillors, MP and MS, or signing petitions and helping with campaigns, you can change minds and influence important decisions.
Change the way you travel. Transport accounts for around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Walking or cycling instead of driving short distances and using public transport where possible can all help. Use Zoom or Teams to attend meetings remotely when you can. Cleaner, electric vehicles are becoming more common on our roads too.
Powering your home. Change to a renewable or zero carbon energy provider if you can. Use gas and electricity more efficiently and switch off unused devices, especially at night. This will save you money as well saving the planet.
Shop local and sustainable. Reduce your food’s carbon footprint by reducing its food miles – the distance it takes to get to your plate. Tweak your diet, so that you eat less carbon intensive produce and cut down on your food waste.
Plant trees. Trees help to absorb carbon emissions, reduce pollution and provide shade, cooling down areas in which they are planted. The Welsh Labour Government has already set up a #MyTreeOurForest scheme so that every household can get a free tree to use in their own garden or have one planted elsewhere on their behalf. There are also several funding programmes available for planting more trees in schools, community areas and other green spaces – contact my office on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info if you have anywhere in mind locally.
If we all work together then the goal of dealing with climate change is achievable.
We all have a role, no matter how big or small, in preserving our environment for current and future generations.