Title of 2020 Resolution:
The National Council of Women calls on the members of the UN to co-operate to strengthen action to protect the planet from climate change. We urge the international community not to return to pre Covid emission levels and instead to integrate climate action into recovery programmes.
In 2001 the National Council of Women passed a resolution ‘aware that much scientific evidence has shown that climate change could be a serious problem facing humanity, calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to work through the United Nations to construct a long-term, structured and co-ordinated response to the problem’. We reaffirmed it in 2004.
Alarmingly the problem has got worse since then and threatens human well-being, ecosystems and economies and even the future of the planet – because we are close to tipping points such as forest loss in fires and the melting of permafrost which itself releases more CO2 and methanei. The last five-year period has been the warmest five years on recordii.
The annual mean global temperature is likely to be at least 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the coming five years (2020-2024) and there is a 20% chance that it will exceed 1.5°C in at least one yeariii.
The Covid pandemic has reduced emissions. Governments need to grasp the opportunity to embrace climate action as part of recovery programmes and ensure that we grow back based on clean technologies, green initiatives and decarbonised economies.
i Mark Lynas, Our final warning: Six degrees of climate emergency April 2020 quoted at the Hay Festival https://www.hayfestival.com/hayplayer – access event at Hay WiFi 23rd May 2020
ii World Meteorological Office July 2020 https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/new-climate-predictions-assess-global-temperatures-coming-five-years
Proposer: Ann Davison, NCW Individual Member
Seconder: Sudha Srivistava, NCW Individual Member
Submitted by: Ann Davison, NCW Individual Member
Proposer Speech – Ann Davison
We have just experienced Britain’s longest stretch of temperatures above 34C since the 1960s, after the level was reached for six days in a row. Next we had thunderstorms with flooding, damage and travel disruption. These kind of weather events concentrate the mind. We cannot say that any particular weather event is due to global warming but scientists have predicted it will cause more extreme weather and, when we look at the overall trends, we can see that warming is happening.
The State of the Climate report from the American Meteorological Society, a peer-reviewed report with contributions from climate scientists around the world, including from the Met Office, said that
- Each decade since 1980 has been successively warmer than the preceding decade, with the most recent (2010–19) being around 0.2°C warmer than the previous (2000–09).
- 2019 was among the three warmest years since records began in the 1800s (only 2016 and 2015 – in some datasets – were warmer)
- All years after 2013 have been warmer than all others back to the mid-1800s
- For the 32nd consecutive year, 2019 saw the loss of mass from mountain glaciers across the globe
- Lake temperatures are above the long-term average and permafrost (permanently frozen ground) temperatures have continued to increase
- The northern hemisphere growing season was eight days longer than average
- During 2019, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases increased by the following amounts: carbon-dioxide (2.5 parts per million); nitrous-oxide (1 part per billion); and methane (9.2 parts per billion)
- There were exceptional wildfire events over Australia, Amazonia, Indonesia and parts of Siberiai
The slowdown in economies due to the Covid pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink as they recover again. It is urgent that we do so because without concerted global action we are likely soon to see more exceptional heatwaves, loss of flora and fauna, including the coral reefs, lower yields causing famines, increased drought and desert spread.
With an economic recovery tilted towards green stimulus and reductions in fossil fuel investments, it is possible to avoid future warming of 0.3°C by 2050 according to a recent study.ii Especially the report recommends that policies are enacted to cut pollution from the transport, industry and power sectors at the same time so that the reduction in different types of emissions work together.
We have the opportunity to act now, as economies begin to recover, to grow back in a sustainable way.
ii Current and future global climate impacts resulting from COVID-19, Piers M. Forster, Harriet I. Forster and Steven T. Turnock, Published in Nature 6 August. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0883-0#Fig3