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Climate Change and the Extinction Rebellion

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24th Apr 2019

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Climate Change is the greatest threat humanity faces and has pushed Earth into "uncharted territory". That was the stark warning published in a World Meteorological Organisation report in March last year. Record temperatures, extreme weather, rising sea levels and melting arctic ice are just a few of the telltale signs.

The Paris Agreement was implemented during COP21 in 2015 as a collaborative global response to climate change, with a goal of reducing emissions. It aims to keep the global temperature rise to just 1.5°C, which would significantly reduce the risks and the impacts associated with climate change. However, three years after nearly 200 countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, we are still far off-track from preventing severe global warming in the decades ahead.

The International Energy Agency published a report last year stating renewable energy technology must be considerably ramped up in order to meet long-term climate change targets and governments need to support large-scale deployment with the necessary policies. Renewable power generation growth needs to accelerate by an additional 40 percent over 2020-25 to reach a 2 degree Celsius limit goal. All this is needed within a 12 year period before we see irriversable damages. Scary stuff.

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Over the last few weeks in London, the UK group Extinction Rebellion initiated protests all over the city, calling on the public to join a civil disobedience and rebellion movement demanding immediate climate change action by the government. Protests are still going strong around the capital, which begs the question, what steps do they want the powers that be to take? The group have three demands; 1. Governments must tell the truth by declaring a public emergency, 2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions, and 3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice. 

Together with the protests, high profile individuals have also weighed in on the conversation including climate activist Greta Thunberg, historian and broadcaster David Attenborough who presented his new programme Climate Change: The Facts, and probably the most controversial of all Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. For the first time, he spoke out about climate change and empahasized how the financial sector must play a central role in a massive reallocation of capital to help prevent catastrophic global warming.

As the Extinction Rebellion protests came to a close last week, the government agreed to meet the group to discuss our climate challenges. The UK then took a major step and became the first country to officially announce an environment and climate emergency. This is a significant milestone, but we must remember to keep the conversation open to all – financiers, legislators, campaigners and activists – to share ideas and work constructively on tackling the most important crisis of the 21st century. Whatever it takes and whoever it involves, it's clear we all must unite to tackle our climate emergency.