What you need to know about climate change — and how we can stop it
Anyone can tell that the weather is getting wilder and affecting us all – from floods in the UK to droughts, storms and sea-level rise displacing millions of the world's poorest people. Climate change is happening now.
We must act fast to stop burning coal, oil and gas — fossil fuels that heat the atmosphere. Otherwise, the climate will become too extreme to provide a safe home for billions of people or for our beautiful natural world.
Almost every country in the world has committed to limit global warming — by signing the 2015 Paris Agreement. But the world doesn't yet have a plan to reach that goal.
Yet there are clear signs of hope. The switch to clean renewable energy is now happening at breathtaking speed. Fossil fuel companies that want to continue to extract more coal, oil and gas are finding that people will no longer tolerate their future being put at risk. A global movement of ordinary people is achieving extraordinary things in the fight to protect our planet.
The tide is turning faster than many politicians realise — as more and more people join together to take action.
This is where you can find out about how you can be part of this extraordinary moment.
Climate change in numbers
Who does climate change affect?
Climate change is already devastating people's lives all over the world. And it's the world’s poorest people who are hardest hit, and who have least resources to cope. In the UK flooding is set to get worse with warmer, wetter summers, and food prices could rise as crops fail elsewhere in the world.
We're seeing increased drought, storms, floods, crop damage and sea-level rise. Millions of people are fleeing their homes as a result.
The UN Refugee Agency says climate change is a 'threat multiplier' in many of today’s conflicts — from Darfur to Somalia to Iraq and Syria.
The effects will get worse as temperatures rise further. So we must cut greenhouse gas emissions to stop temperatures rising. But people also need protection from the climate change we can no longer avoid: that means financial support for developing countries and legal protection for climate refugees.
What causes climate change?
Our planet supports life because of the greenhouse effect — a blanket of gases trapping some of the sun’s rays. But increase the amount of these gases, and more heat is trapped. This causes the planet to heat up, and leads to a more extreme climate.
Our planet is warmer now than at any point in the past 800,000 years, and heating up fast. This is mainly a result of the huge increase in the amount of coal, oil and gas we’ve been burning since the industrial revolution, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Other things contribute to climate change too, such as deforestation, which means trees absorb less of these gases; and other greenhouse gases such as methane from cows.
Image by Dikaseva
What needs to happen to stop dangerous climate change
The path to a better future is challenging but clear. We need:
- To keep 80% of all fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – in the ground.
- Europe to be free of fossil fuels by 2030.
- The UK to stop using coal energy in the next few years, ban fracking and all new dirty energy projects and move to an economy entirely powered by clean energy.
- People who work in the fossil fuel industry must be supported to move into the thousands of decent, high-skilled jobs that can be created in the green economy.
- International legal protection for people fleeing from climate change disasters.
- Compensation for people hit by climate change disasters.
- Money for developing countries to help them adapt to a changing climate — they have done the least to cause the problem.
Why work with Friends of the Earth on climate change
We're a network of groups across 5 continents at the forefront of stopping climate change. We are pooling our strengths to stop new fossil fuels projects and switch to clean energy — because the best way to stop climate change is to keep oil, coal and gas in the ground.
We win together
Our supporters, local groups and staff are making progress in the fight against climate change. Together we
- led the campaign for the world-leading Climate Change Act, which means the UK must cut its pollution by at least 80% by 2050.
- spearheaded the feed-in-tariff campaign — the reason three-quarters of a million roofs in the UK today have solar panels.
- orchestrated international pressure to get world governments to accept a 1.5°C target in the Paris climate agreement.
- won the argument for a finance mechanism to help the world’s poorest people hit by climate disasters.
- pressed the UK Government to increase funding to protect UK communities from flooding.
- are persuading local authority pension funds to move their money out of fossil fuels.
- are standing with local people against dirty fossil fuel schemes up and down the country.
Whoever you are and wherever you live, we can work together to keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop climate change before it’s too late.
Image: West Solent Solar Farm. © Solar Century
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