I’ve noticed the new decade being referred to as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ but if we want this to refer to progress, rather than bush fires, then we really do all need to play our part and make sure our leaders get their act together.
Back in 2017, my colleague Russell Jones wrote about the importance of this coming decade when reporting on the outcome of the COP24 meeting in Poland. This told us we had 12 years to get a sensible, global plan together to stop the planet warming so quickly and so much.
We currently face a warming of 3 degrees Centigrade from pre-industrial levels, which would be disastrous, significantly increasing floods, droughts, and fires, whilst also seeing rises in sea level and a major decline of food production around the globe.
At the time, 2020 was seen as an important deadline, because governments will need to show this year how they have met targets for cutting their emissions, and the steps they plan to meet even tougher targets in future.
The roaring twenties could see the planet go up in smoke
What are our leaders up to?
The last global meeting COP25, held in November in Madrid proved to be pretty inconclusive with reports calling it a ‘fudge’ for failing to reach consensus in many areas.
The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres was ‘disappointed’ with the result and is quoted as saying that the international community has “lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis”.
The event in Madrid became the longest on record after almost 27,000 delegates worked to finalise the ‘rulebook’ of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, when it takes effect this year.
The event was marked with a huge protest through the Spanish capital and prominent speakers at the event, included Greta Thunberg, fresh from her transatlantic journey.
Never one to pull her punches, Ms Thunberg told the attendees that COP appeared to have turned into some kind of opportunity for people to look for loopholes, rather than find consensus to tackle the urgent need.
Last year was the second hottest ever recorded according to the EU’s climate monitoring service, yet there are still some who deny that the climate crisis is even happening or is, indeed a crisis.
That well known environmentalist and renowned ‘scientist’ Meat Loaf waded into the climate debate recently when he criticised Greta Thunberg and called her ‘brainwashed’.
The singer of "Bat Out of Hell" said in an interview earlier this month that he does not believe in climate change, stating that Thunberg: “has been brainwashed into thinking that there is climate change and there isn't".
Thunberg was quick to respond on social media saying that the issue is not about Meat Loaf, or about her, but about scientific facts. She also tweeted a short video from @CarbonBrief showing just how urgent it is for us to do something and predicting that we have 8 years left to stop temperatures rising higher than 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
Thunberg, who was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, has attracted a lot of criticism from climate change deniers but has amassed a huge following.
She has also shown her humorous side by changing her Twitter handle to @Sharon, in recognition of the wrong answer given on BBC’s Mastermind, over Christmas.
The road to Glasgow
So, it is clear that whoever you are and wherever you are, you need to do something, whether that is as active as joining a school strike, writing to our MPs, urging businesses to reduce their carbon footprints, flying less ourselves, eating less meat, or using other transport than always jumping in the car.
There are things that we as individuals can do ourselves that collectively will make a difference as we’ve written about here on The Hub before.
But it is also about what the nations of the world can agree to themselves and, with a new UK government that for once has a healthy majority, and an ambitious Prime Minister, let’s hope we see action and leadership on this most important of issues.
The UK plays host to the next COP meeting, which is being held Glasgow in November.
We are significantly increasing the use of clean, renewable energy as a nation but this need be speeded up dramatically and we need to transition from an infrastructure designed around high-carbon energy towards low or even zero carbon technologies.
The solutions do already exist and the government has already pointed to sales of one million renewable heat pumps each year by 2030 to help resolve the issue of low carbon heating for our homes.
But more needs to be done and that is why 2020 is seen as a pivotal year in the struggle to mitigate the harm that we are doing to our planet.
If we don’t put measures in place within the next year or two, it may simply be too late to reverse the damaging effects we have already inflicted on the earth.
Martin Fahey is Head of Sustainability at Mitsubishi Electric UK & Ireland