October 2023 StartNOW Challenge: Week 1
Welcome to the October 2023 StartNOW challenge, an initiative organized by the Community Impact Challenge (CIC) as part of our mission to empower individuals on their journey towards sustainability.
As we begin this journey, we turn our attention to the impact of climate change on a global scale. This document draws from the recent report by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authority on climate science, serving as the basis for our discussions on greenhouse emissions, global warming, and the consequences of extreme weather events worldwide.
Extreme weather events are rising, affecting nations and regions globally, as noted in the "State of Climate 2021" report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) (9). These events include heatwaves, storms, and rising sea levels, and they are not confined to one region. For example, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific islands face cyclones and monsoons, Europe endures heat waves and flooding, and North America deals with wildfires and droughts. Climate change's global impact urges immediate action.
In this global context, the need for action is increasingly urgent, as highlighted by Carbon Brief (8). The consequences of these events are not only environmental but also social and economic, emphasized by Oxfam's research (6), particularly for vulnerable communities in the global south. Research by Iberdrola (7) also highlights the challenges faced by countries dealing with climate change impacts, despite historically contributing less.
The information below serves as a framework for our discussions, fostering collaboration and inspiring actions to reduce our collective carbon footprint. We explore greenhouse emissions, global warming, and their link to extreme weather events, presenting statistics and insights that underscore the urgency of collective action. Additionally, we discuss strategies and solutions to address these global challenges.
Human Activities Are Responsible for Global Warming
"Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850-1900 in 2011-2020...
Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over 2010-2019, with unequal historical and ongoing contributions arising from unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries, and between individuals.
Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts on food and water security, human health and on economies and society and related losses and damages to nature and people. Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected. " (1)
A. Increased Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs).
B. Increased Concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere
C. Changes in Global Surface Temperature
D. Humans Are Responsible
B. Net Anthropogenic GHG Emissions per Capita and for Total Population, per region (2019)
Every Region Faces More Sever and/or Frequent Compound and Cascading Climate Risks
The Consequences of Human Caused Climate Change
“Human-caused climate change is a consequence of more than a century of net GHG emissions from energy use, land-use and land usage, lifestyle and patterns of consumption, and production...
Emissions reductions in CO2 from fossil fuels and industrial processes (CO2- FFI), due to improvements in energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy, have been less than emissions increases from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings. The 10% of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute 34–45% of global consumption-based household GHG emissions, while the middle 40% contribute 40–53%, and the bottom 50% contribute 13–15%. An increasing share of emissions can be attributed to urban areas (a rise from about 62% to 67–72% of the global share between 2015 and 2020)." (1)
"Across sectors and regions, the most vulnerable people and systems have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change." (1) "Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts andstormswas15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability." (1)
Global Emissions Have Not Yet Peaked
“At a time when global emissions need to be falling, they are in fact still rising, as the chart here shows. The world has not yet peaked.” (2)
“Current climate policies will reduce emissions, but not quickly enough to reach international targets” (2)
“This graph shows that carbon inequality is not just an issue of high- vs. low-emitting countries...
Intra-regional inequalities in carbon emissions are also very pronounced. Modeled estimates based on the systematic combination of household surveys, tax data, and environmental input-output tables. Emissions include footprints associated with consumption and investments. Values also take into account the carbon embedded in international trade” (3)
Average emissions by regions in comparison to the 1.9 ton target required to keep temperature rise within 1.5C (3)
Top, middle and bottom EU and US household emissions by spending categories
“Indirectly households drive the majority of emissions in the US and EU. A typical household’s carbon emissions vary significantly between the highest and lowest emission households. An average household in the EU emits roughly 10 tons of carbon dioxide. The biggest contributors to emissions in households are housing and transportation, and higher emissions households do have higher emissions across all sectors, [particularly] in air travel.” (4)
A closer look at Europe
“The top 10% of the EU population with the highest carbon footprint (CFs) contribute more carbon compared to the 50% of the EU population with the lowest CFs. Only 5% of the EU households live within a CF target of 2.5 tCO2eq/cap, while the top 1% of EU households have CFs of 55 tCO2eq/cap. The households with the highest CFs are by and large the households with the highest levels of income and expenditure. Even more so, we find the contributions of land and air transport to be disproportionately large among the top emitters. As land transport and, even more so, air transport are both highly carbon intensive and highly elastic, we would argue that significantly more needs to be done in these domains.” (5)