The time to act on climate change is now.
Every individual and organisation in Swindon can take action and play a part.
Find out what you can do: be the change.
Why we need to act
Since the mid-1800s, humans have contributed to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. This causes global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate.
The latest scientific evidence shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850 to 1900. Averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.
We can already see the impacts of climate change and these will become more severe and widespread as global temperatures continue to rise. How great the impacts will become depends upon our success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement was the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement, adopted at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015. It sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
In April 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advised that without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. Limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector. This will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and use of alternative fuels.
What does net zero mean?
Put simply, net zero means balancing the amount of greenhouse gas produced with the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. Gross zero would mean stopping all emissions, which isn’t realistically attainable across all sectors of our lives and industry.
Even with best efforts to reduce them, there will still be some emissions.
Net zero can be achieved through a combination of emission reduction and emission removal. Greenhouse gas emissions can be removed by the natural environment for example, stored in soils, trees and the ocean, or by using technologies like carbon capture and storage.
When the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by a country, organisation or place are cancelled out by the amount removed, it will be a net zero emitter.
The UK was the first major economy to create a legally binding target to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. In October 2021, the Government published a Net Zero Strategy setting out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet this target.
Find out more:
- Video: climate change in 60 seconds (The Royal Society)
- Climate change: the basics (The Climate Reality Project)
- Climate change explained (UK Government)
- What is climate change? (Met Office)
- Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sixth Assessment Report, August 2021)
- What is net zero? (National Grid)