The 2018 IPCC report

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have recently released a report in relation to the broad explanation of the science of climate change and the future of Earth. Collaborated by 133 contributing authors, 91 lead authors, from 40 countries have assessed 30,000 scientific papers, and their discoveries should not be ignored. This warning has been prepared and delivered by leading worldwide researchers to governments and policy-makers.

The report has revealed that the world is headed for a dangerous temperature rise of 1.5°C by 2030 if substantial action isn’t taken, with immediate effect. This is far earlier than previously thought. Since the middle of the 19th century, our planet, has already warmed by 1.C and potentially could reach 1.5.C before the middle of this century at the current rate.

Global warming today

With proven evidence of human’s contributions to the rise in greenhouse gases, globally we must act now. Clearly directed within the report, we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 to have a realistic chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

As the world’s temperature has risen, the warming has triggered many other changes to the Earth’s climate. With extreme weather and climate events that have increased in recent decades, such as heat waves and droughts, are the primary way that most people experience climate change.

Innovative ways beginning to reduce carbon

Today, there are millions of cars on our roads and each one of them is a potential contributor to environmental pollution. Cars emit poisonous gases which impact the environment, and accounts for roughly a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and seriously affects air quality in major cities. Innovators and companies have been investigating over the last decade to reduce our carbon footprint within transport. With the introduction of electric and hybrid cars to tackle pollution problems, governments around the world are implementing ambitious policies to promote the electrification of transport and phase out ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. The UK and France both plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel only cars by 2040.

Innovation potential

The recent “Decarbonathon” competition, run by the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders initiative, alongside ENGIE and the National Physical Laboratory, set out to find the most promising new ideas that could reduce carbon emissions in cities, and selected the five technologies that it thinks holds the most promise. One concept that has been considered to hold the most potential is the Motum project. This idea aims to reduce industrial and residential emissions by introducing a borrowing/lending basis of electrical appliances. For example: a simple electrical drill is typically only used for at least twelve minutes during its lifetime. An idea borne out of a sharing economy, this concept aims to reduce overconsumption by making it simpler to share appliances with others. Thus, reducing emissions from industrial manufacturing with supply and demand.

Peatland restoration

Peatland ecosystems are the most efficient carbon sinks in the world, these areas store carbon and carbon-containing substances for long periods of time. Peatlands and their surrounding plant life work to contain the carbon released by the decomposing peat. This ecosystem covers approximately 3% of the world’s land area yet holds an estimated 30% of the world’s carbon content.

It is estimated there are 1.7 million hectares of peatland in Scotland, much of which is eroding.  Erosion is caused by the peat either being washed away by rainfall or dried out by sunlight. Recently the Scottish government have launched an £8m fund to restore these peatlands. This restoration work will help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by locking carbon into the environment. Experts in this field plan to flatten the peat embankments using diggers and cover with vegetation. This significant increase in peatland restoration forms part of Scotland’s draft Climate Plan, which is currently going through parliament.

Andrew McBride, a peatland specialist with Scottish Natural Heritage, has confirmed: “Scotland’s peatlands actually hold the equivalent of about 140 years of our emissions from Scotland – all the industry. So, it’s very important that we hold the actual carbon and the peat in place.

UK Aviation pledge

Launched early this month, Heathrow Airport’s new plan to set out four key areas to reduce its direct and indirect emissions, before negating the remainder accounted for by its future expansion.

This strategy, delivered in February 2017, includes aims to ensure accounted growth, together with the construction of the third runway as carbon-neutral. To address carbon emissions from the runway, Heathrow are looking to use both cleaner aircraft technologies and alternative fuels. It is the ambition for Heathrow to become “a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels” according to The Guardia

The strategy outlined for the EU is a target goal to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. Under these plans, any carbon emissions in the EU will be counterbalanced by the actions else

Heathrow 2.0 sustainability strategy.