I’m going to talk to you about something that matters to all of us. Something that many of us have been aware of for a while. But recent events have been a wakeup call none of us wanted but our leaders needed. Images of extreme weather in Greece, California, Canada, Germany and London have filled our screens and news homepages. Then, on Monday 9 August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched their Climate Change Assessment Report and it wasn’t exactly a light read, with the apocalyptic view of climate change seeming all too real. However, there is hope. The past 18 months has shown us that when we’re in need we can come together, this is the fight that unites us all. 

 

School group playing a game using an inflatable earth at The Time Is Now Mass Lobby, Westminster, London (2019) – Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
School group playing a game using an inflatable earth at The Time Is Now Mass Lobby, Westminster, London (2019) – Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com) 

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the UN’s Environment Programme. Its aim was to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change and offer options to help us reduce the risk and adapt to its effects. This year we have seen Canada reach record temperatures of over 49.6°C, closer to home we witnessed flash floods in London and Germany, and most recently we’ve watched the devastating scenes of wildfires in Greece and California. Extreme weather driven by man-made climate change is wreaking havoc on people’s lives and 15% of UK species are at risk of extinction. Time is running out to realise the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit global warming to an increase of 1.5°C. 

 

RSPB Ham Wall Nature Reserve, over 200Ha of wetland – Luke Phillips (rspb-images.com)
RSPB Ham Wall Nature Reserve, over 200Ha of wetland – Luke Phillips (rspb-images.com) 

The goal to keep warming below 1.5 degrees must be kept alive and cannot be achieved without halting the nature crisis. This is a joint approach and dealing with it as such, the ‘nature and climate crisis’, will significantly improve our chances of success. We need our Governments to step up and realise the need for nature-based solutions and drive rapid decarbonisation (reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we emit). Realise that nature is part of the answer and must come alongside this rapid decarbonisation. Protecting and restoring nature is still one of the most critical climate actions we can take, but it’s not a limitless solution to absorb our emissions. 

 

The RSPB is leading the way in the role nature can play to help us reduce the risks and adapt to climate change. In 2011 – 2013 we were involved in the largest realignment of open coast in Europe at RSPB Medmerry nature reserve. The flood defence now protects the South East's most at risk flooding area whilst providing breeding grounds for avocetsblack-headed gullslittle ringed plovers and oystercatchers. We’ve also restored over 2,600 hectares of peat bog in Scotland, helped make The Cairngorms Connect project the biggest habitat restoration project in the country, and helped create St Aidans nature reserve, a 400-hectare inland wetland haven in Yorkshire. These actions and projects that you have supported are prime examples of the benefits of a joint approach, great for wildlife, our climate and people. We must recognise that we are not separate from the solution. We’re interwoven in the mix and nature-based solutions can benefit all of us. 

 

Oystercatcher perched on rocks – Katie Nethercoat (rspb-images.com)
Oystercatcher perched on rocks – Katie Nethercoat (rspb-images.com) 

You can be part of the solution. This year people all over the world are going to be raising their voices and asking world leaders for more action in the face of this report. Government action over the next few months will change the course of history. I’m just going to say that bit again, “over the next few months”, this is not the time to sit back. As a supporter of the RSPB, you are part of over a million voices and the more we get involved the bigger the message. Over the coming weeks we’ll be diving into ways you can get involved, such as the Great Big Green Week in September, so keep an eye on our weekly Notes on Nature emails for your climate action itinerary. 

COP26 in Glasgow will see countries come together to set and raise ambition on climate change and emission reduction targets. The next issue of our members magazine Nature’s Home will delve deep into what we’re doing and how you can stand with us. It’s going to take all of us, together. 

 


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Anonymous
  • The world has and will always have a dynamic climate and atmosphere, The sharp rise that we see now is simply caused by too many humans and will only get worse. Just the amount of human respiration accounts I believe for a billion tons of c02. Carbon dioxide is at .035 to .04 as a percentage of the worlds atmosphere. I have asked quite a few people some of them teachers if they knew the composition of our atmosphere non knew and guessed between 25% and 3% co2. Also some of those people had no idea about the carbon oxygen and nitrogen cycles all of which are the atmospheres main gases and all vital to our survival. I do think that the RSPB could try and explain some basics about our atmosphere and the way it replenishes itself. Our world is in my opinion is trying with its biosphere to rebalance itself and we humans are part of that and it needs our help. I fear that trying to reduce greenhouse gases will be like king Canute holding back the tide.