New findings in the World Meteorological Organisation Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update report indicate that the chances of breaching the 1.5°C threshold for dangerous climate impacts in one of the next five years have never been higher – with a near 50:50 (48%) chance of this occurring.
The research suggests that temperatures between 2022 and 2026 will be between 1.1°C and 1.7°C higher than pre-industrial levels. Such a rise may be temporary (linked to the El Nino phenomenon); but there is serious concern about the overall trajectory in global air temperatures.
As we face the reality of a rapidly warmer world, how can academic research be put into action to help tackle the global climate crisis?
University research plays an essential role in building the evidence base to understand the evolving realities of climate change - translating evidence into policies and other actions, analysing the effectiveness of policies, and prototyping and assessing innovation and technologies for a net zero future. Researchers at the University of Birmingham are playing a central role in this process, leading in the UK and internationally.
Our latest report, Keeping 1.5⁰C Alive offers clear and actionable policy recommendations, which are vital if we are to achieve net zero and keep the <1.5 °C target alive. The new report focuses on key policy areas, aligning with the work of Government departments, to make recommendations that, if adopted, have the potential to capitalise on current political and social momentum on the climate crisis and secure a net zero future.
University research plays an essential role in building the evidence base to understand the evolving realities of climate change - translating evidence into policies and other actions, analysing the effectiveness of policies, and prototyping and assessing innovation and technologies for a net zero future.Professor David Hannah, Inaugural Director of the Birmingham Institute for Sustainability and Climate Action
We were very pleased to launch the new report at a roundtable event at the House of Lords and discuss the key finding and policy recommendations with politicians and business leaders.
The launch event reaffirmed the shared goals and objectives in facing the climate crisis. In addition, it was clear the urgent changes needed to tackle climate change will only happen through a shared understanding and cooperation between researchers, industry, policy and decision makers/ takers.
Developing and aiding transitions is fundamental to tackling climate change. We need to engage with all stakeholders to implement behavioural change. Top-down policies are rarely effective and communities need to be part of developing sustainable solutions. This includes addressing how we heat and cool our homes, how we travel, how we adapt to more extreme floods and droughts, and how we live together in a changing world.
It is also apparent that government’s focus on developing new ‘shiny’ technological solutions to tackle climate change is misplaced. At the roundtable event, it was remarked, “80% of the solutions we need to address climate change are already there”. Governments and policy makers should concentrate on linking up regional and national resources to delivery in reach solutions, rather than trying to develop newer ‘silver bullets’ in addressing the challenge.
It was noted that in the UK and elsewhere, the short-term political cycles and systems are ill-disposed to sustain the radical changes required. Encouraging societal and industrial shifts in behaviour is going to leave some groups “bruised” and governments need to have the confidence and power to push through changes with the life-long impact required.
Conversely, this upheaval does present industry with one of the biggest commercial opportunities of our lifetime. If (as a collective) universities, policy makers and businesses work together to create the right interventions for informed policy changes, the benefits will be enjoyed for generations to come.
So what’s next? Governments need to implement policies at haste, and any change will need to win the hearts and minds of all. Universities are going to play a key role in this transformation, as academic evidence and research tools will help to support the best decisions at this most critical juncture in human (and, indeed, our planet’s) history.