Climate Emergency Declaration


Intended to demonstrate Europe’s green credentials days before a crucial UN climate conference in Madrid, The European Parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency”. This just days after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warned that 2018 was exceptionally worrying in the world’s concentration of greenhouse gases.

If current policies continue to operate the way they are now, the Earth’s temperature is expected to rise by more than three degrees between now and 2100. The devastating consequences of this include mass extinctions and large areas of the planet becoming uninhabitable. 

In order to cap temperature rises at 1.5°C, greenhouse emissions would need to be reduced by 7.6% each year from 2020 onwards. If it fails to do so, the consequences will be catastrophic.

On November 25, the WMO warned that the concentration of greenhouse gases broke a new record in 2018. The report highlighted that if the trend continues to rise over a long period of time, the effects will become irreversible. The consequences can range from rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress (when water demand is greater than the amount available or when its use is restricted by its poor quality), rising sea levels and alteration of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. 

Greenhouse gases are gases emitted by human activity, that form part of the atmosphere in a natural and anthropogenic way. A small number of these gases are necessary to maintain the Earth’s temperature above -18ºC. Nevertheless, these gases are triggered by human activity so the greenhouse effect has done nothing but warm the planet.

There is a distinction between emissions and concentration. Emission is the amount of gas emitted into the atmosphere, concentration refers to the amount of gas left in the atmosphere after various interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and oceans. The man greenhouse gases are CO2, methane and nitrous oxide but there are many more. 

"There is no indication that there will be a slowdown, much less a decrease in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere despite all the commitments made under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "We need to translate commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the future well-being of humanity," he said.

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