Our guest contributor this month is Amelia Womack, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales since September 2014, with a short thought piece.
Just over a year ago, the UN gave us a stark warning that we had just 12 years to take action to combat climate change. Since then, councils and parliaments have been declaring climate emergencies and have outlined a range of targets to ensure that our planet stays below 1.5 degrees of warming. One of the terms often used is “net zero”, but what does this mean in terms of the actions that need to be taken?
To begin with, we’re all aware that we need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions that are released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels. From using public transport to insulating our homes, to eating less meat and buying second hand, there are many ways that we can reduce our own carbon footprint to start decreasing the volume of climate change causing gases. Our local and national governments also have a role to help enable the greenest options to be the cheapest and easiest options available to people.
To achieve net zero we need the amount of carbon being added to the atmosphere to be equal to the amount of carbon we are removing from the atmosphere. This isn’t the same thing as zero emissions, which would mean adding no carbon at all to the atmosphere which isn’t completely possible at the moment.
Net zero will need us to change our habits to reduce the amount of carbon we are adding to our atmosphere, and also to start removing removing carbon. But how do we remove carbon from the atmosphere? It’s simpler than you may think.
To remove carbon we don’t need big engineering projects, or new infrastructure – we simply need trees and plants to absorb CO2 through photosynthesis turning it into oxygen.
This can be done by planting trees to create new forests or reforesting areas where the trees have been cut down. Tree planting projects have been created by individuals, businesses and governments around the world and have not only helped our climate, but have supported habitats for plants, insects, birds and animals that had previously been affected by deforestation.
We still have a long way to go to achieve net zero, but every new tree planted helps!
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