After Cop26: What you can do to help climate change

The UN summit on climate change Cop26, described by many as ‘humanity’s last chance,’ ended on November 13.

Despite countries such as the USA, China and several European countries having made significant steps at the summit, the emissions-cutting pledge is still insufficient in regards to the Paris agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 UN summit, emotionally apologised as he announced the signing of the deal.

In 1990, the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report said that climate change caused by humans was a possibility but could not be confirmed.

Over 30 years later we know for certain that climate change is affecting human lives. It is not only changing the temperature but also the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year will be caused by climate change. By 2030, the direct damage cost is estimated to be 2-4 billion USD per year.

Natural resources are being degraded at a rate unprecedented in human history. According to scientists, we are witnessing an extinction crisis.

Global surface temperature, which characterises climate change, will continue to increase. This rise has accelerated the speed at which polar icecaps are melting. The ice sheets in the world’s seas are also melting at an alarming rate. This is leading to rising sea levels which will flood land all over the world.

Droughts, due to climate change, threaten the food and lives of millions of people. So what should those of us watching from the sidelines do? 

All is not lost: What you can do to reduce climate change

It is not too late to save the planet for our future. A lot of damage is irreversible but reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions could still rescue us.

The move towards electric vehicles and countries making commitments towards renewable energy will help.

There are also ways that individuals can do to make a difference. If everyone did a small thing for climate change, this could amount to a big feat.

As Sir David Attenborough said: “What we do now, in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next thousand years.”

Imperial College London, following a conference on climate change, has recommended ways that individuals can help reduce climate change.

  • Eat less meat and diary: Red meat has the largest environmental impact. One cheeseburger is equivalent to nine falafel and pitta.
  • Cut back on flying: Planes and transport have the largest emitting sector in developed countries.
  • Do not drive, instead walk or cycle: Cars contribute hugely to GHG.
  • Turn down the heating and turn off the lights: This, as well as making homes draught proof, reduces energy and our carbon footprint. 
  • Respect green spaces: Parks and trees absorb carbon dioxide and regulate temperature.
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