The climate crisis is an emergency of unprecedented magnitude. For decades, scientists have warned us of the dangers, and now their predictions are coming true. The wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events making our daily headlines are just the start of an ecological disaster on the brink of spinning out of control.
The earth has warmed 1°C since the start of industrialization due to greenhouse gas emissions generated by humans. To avoid the the worst-case future scenarios, the U.N. has said we need to limit further warming to 0.5°C. This requires reaching carbon neutral status by the year 2050, at the latest.
It will never be possible to entirely eliminate global emissions, so we must collectively reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and then find ways to remove greenhouse gases from the air faster than we generate them. The fate of the planet rests on how quickly we can reach 'net-zero' status.
Right now, collectively, we have barely even started down the path to achieving the net-zero goal. In the last decade global emissions increased by 11%. Half of all emissions ever generated from fossil fuel burning have occurred in the last three decades - in the time since the U.N. held its first climate change emergency summit in 1992. On our current trajectory, we will sail past the 0.5°C red line in the next 12 years, triggering a 'feedback loop' of events that accelerate further warming.
This is why it is imperative that we act now. By the time our kids are old enough to vote and lead, their fate will be largely determined. The next few years are critical. The effects of climate change are irreversible and will last for tens of thousands of years.
Reaching net-zero status by 2050, and limiting further global warming to 0.5°C, requires urgent and massive changes to the way we think, live, work, shop, travel and entertain ourselves. We can delay no longer. Most of the tools required to combat climate change are already with us. What is missing is a common will to solve the problem before it is too late.
Whether we can limit further warming to 0.5°C remains to be seen, but scientists are unanimous: for each extra degree of warming we allow, the impact becomes much, much worse. The worst extinction event that ever happened on earth occurred 250 million years ago, and wiped out 96% of all species. It began when carbon dioxide warmed the planet by 5°C. Many scientists fear the same thing is happening now.
Individuals, businesses, NGOs and governments all over the world are mobilizing to take action. You can too. Take a stand. Be part of the solution.
Climate change is a global problem, but anyone anywhere can make a positive difference by taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Check out our blog for some ideas to get started. Carbon Critical has launched the Net-Zero Fund, which is a great way for kiwis to make a high impact, tax-deductible donation to help tackle climate change.