Introduction

Climate change refers to the large-scale and long-term shifts being observed in our planet's average temperatures and weather patterns.

For the last 11,000 years the average temperature across the world has been about 14oC. The industrial revolution began in the mid 1800s when humans started burning coal, oil and gas. This produces greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that form a 'blanket' in the atmosphere that traps heat from the sun and causes global warming. It has increased the average temperature of the planet by about 1oC. It is also responsible for extreme weather patterns, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, flooding, droughts and fragile ecosystems. Although it is very difficult to predict, scientists estimate that the planet could warm by 4oC by 2100 if we continue at the current pace.

The possible local implications for Welwyn Hatfield include heat, drought, flooding, impact on ecosystems and biodiversity, water supply, river quality, soil quality, agriculture, air pollution, pests, diseases and invasive species.

The UK Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is unequivocal that "climate change is real and human activities are the main cause."

Scientists are increasingly warning of a ghasty future that threatens human survival and observe that "the scale of the threat to the biosphere and all its lifeforms is so great that it is difficult to grasp even for well-informed experts".  There is an urgency to recognise and respond to the scale of the problem.

The purpose of this strategy is to introduce the concept of climate change and the various international agreements and national policies that exist to tackle it, before focusing on the practical things that the Council and its partners can do at a county and borough level: the "think global, act local" mantra.

The Council declared a climate change emergency in June 2019 and set itself the ambitious target to be zero net carbon by 2030, or a justification for a later date if the review finds this unachievable.

The Council has established a cross-party Climate Change Member Group. This group will meet on a regular basis to maintain its understanding of international agreements, national policies and local strategies and to identify actions that that can be delivered to help address the climate change crisis.

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Published 11/02/2020