An historic report has set out how we can avoid pushing millions of people into poverty – but only if governments and individuals take immediate action to tackle climate change.
The report – published by a group of scientists from around the world called the ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ (IPCC) – says that global temperature rises must be kept below 1.5 Celsius.
Limiting global warming to this level by reducing carbon emissions will avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. These include even worse flooding and storms in some areas of the world, and threats to food and water supplies due to famines and droughts in other regions.
The effects of the changing climate are being felt the most by the world’s poorest people, despite the most vulnerable communities having contributed least to greenhouse gas emissions which are warming the planet.
Limiting climate change ‘necessity not an ambition’
Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:
“This report proves that keeping global temperatures to 1.5 degrees is a necessity not an ambition.
“Faced with such information we cannot leave poor communities standing on the frontline of this potential storm. We must act urgently.
“Pope Francis has challenged politicians to ensure that their actions leave a legacy that ‘cares for our common home’ in the long-term. This report is yet another wake-up call for them.”
How can we tackle climate change?
The IPCC report sets out a number of steps that must be taken urgently to avoid temperature rises exceeding 1.5 Celsius, including:
Cutting carbon emissions
The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels must be reduced drastically in the coming years. This means that we must cut emissions to 'net zero' before 2050.
Switch to renewable energy
We need to stop burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and instead switch to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Renewables provided 27 per cent of electricity in the UK in 2017, but this figure needs to increase.
Thousands of churches have moved away from fossil fuels, while CAFOD supporters have themselves been switching to renewable energy in their own homes.
Renewable energy is also the cheapest, safest and quickest way of providing electricity to poor communities without access to electricity.
The IPCC report calls for a switch away from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles, as well as walking and taking public transport.
Living simply and caring for our common home
Making changes in our own lifestyles can help to tackle climate change, including by reducing the amount of meat we eat and food we waste.
The report also notes the importance of protecting the natural environment as trees help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Planting more trees has a role to play in reducing emissions, while reducing deforestation is important for protecting indigenous peoples, who are amongst the communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.