SECA Conference

Myself and Kay school spoke at the SECA Conference today, which is in reference to QUB Sustainability. This is a copy of my section of our speech. QUB refuse to declare a climate emergency because it is seen as controversial, but we were reiterating how science is fact and therefore cannot be controversial.

Hello, we are Kay and Anna and we are climate activists who climate strike weekly as a part of Fridays for future to raise awareness of the climate crisis. You listening to this are some of the people that we are raising awareness to when we are out there in Belfast each Friday. This may seem strange- teenagers shouting about science to academics, to members of a top university. But evidently this is a necessity, because you are not acting on the science. Fridays for future’s demands are very simple to understand, to listen to the science and act on it, to stay in line with the Paris Agreement, to achieve climate justice and to stay at or below 1.5 degrees of warming above pre industrial levels. 

Since you are all educated and intelligent people, I will get stuck right into science. Starting with the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. 

As academics, you may be, or at least should be, already familiar with this, but I think a reminder may be necessary. 

Firstly, lets look into the understanding of global warming of 1.5 degrees.

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. 

Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise, with associated impacts. Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C. These risks depend on the magnitude and rate of warming, geographic location, levels of development and vulnerability, and on the choices and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.

When looking at Projected Climate Change, the Potential Impacts of it and by extension the Associated Risks, Climate models project robust differences in regional climate characteristics between present-day and global warming of 1.5°C, and between 1.5°C and 2°C. These differences include increases in: mean temperature in most land and ocean regions, hot extremes in most inhabited regions, heavy precipitation in several regions, and the probability of drought and precipitation deficits in some regions. 

By 2100, global mean sea level rise is projected to be around 0.1 metre lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared to 2°C. Sea level will continue to rise well beyond 2100, and the magnitude and rate of this rise depend on future emission pathways. A slower rate of sea level rise enables greater opportunities for adaptation in the human and ecological systems of small islands, low-lying coastal areas and deltas.

Remember, we live on an island too. 

On land, impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction, are projected to be lower at 1.5°C of global warming compared to 2°C. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C is projected to lower the impacts on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems and to retain more of their services to humans. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C is projected to reduce increases in ocean temperature as well as associated increases in ocean acidity and decreases in ocean oxygen levels.

As a consequence of this, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is projected to reduce risks to marine biodiversity, fisheries, and ecosystems, and their functions and services to humans, as illustrated by recent changes to Arctic sea ice and warm-water coral reef ecosystems. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C. Most adaptation needs will be lower for global warming of 1.5°C compared to 2°C. There are a wide range of adaptation options that can reduce the risks of climate change. There are limits to adaptation and adaptive capacity for some human and natural systems at global warming of 1.5°C, with associated losses. 

Next, lets look at the Emission Pathways and System Transitions Consistent with 1.5°C Global Warming

In model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

To limit global warming to below 2°C CO2 emissions are projected to decline by about 25% by 2030 in most pathways and reach net zero around 2070.

Non-CO2 emissions in pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C show deep reductions that are similar to those in pathways limiting warming to 2°C.

Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems. These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options.

All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal on the order of 100–1000 GtCO2 over the 21st century. CDR would be used to compensate for residual emissions and, in most cases, achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5°C following a peak . CDR deployment of several hundreds of GtCO2 is subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints. Significant near-term emissions reductions and measures to lower energy and land demand can limit CDR deployment to a few hundred GtCO2 without reliance on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

And finally, let’s look at what the science says about Strengthening the Global Response in the Context of Sustainable Development and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty

Estimates of the global emissions outcome of current nationally stated mitigation ambitions as submitted under the Paris Agreement would lead to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 of 52–58 GtCO2 eq yr−1. Pathways reflecting these ambitions would not limit global warming to 1.5°C, even if supplemented by very challenging increases in the scale and ambition of emissions reductions after 2030. Avoiding overshoot and reliance on future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) can only be achieved if global CO2 emissions start to decline well before 2030.

The avoided climate change impacts on sustainable development, eradication of poverty and reducing inequalities would be greater if global warming were limited to 1.5°C rather than 2°C, if mitigation and adaptation synergies are maximized while trade-offs are minimized. Adaptation options specific to national contexts, if carefully selected together with enabling conditions, will have benefits for sustainable development and poverty reduction with global warming of 1.5°C, although trade-offs are possible. Mitigation options consistent with 1.5°C pathways are associated with multiple synergies and trade-offs across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the total number of possible synergies exceeds the number of trade-offs, their net effect will depend on the pace and magnitude of changes, the composition of the mitigation portfolio and the management of the transition.

Limiting the risks from global warming of 1.5°C in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication implies system transitions that can be enabled by an increase of adaptation and mitigation investments, policy instruments, the acceleration of technological innovation and behaviour changes.

Sustainable development supports, and often enables, the fundamental societal and systems transitions and transformations that help limit global warming to 1.5°C. Such changes facilitate the pursuit of climate-resilient development pathways that achieve ambitious mitigation and adaptation in conjunction with poverty eradication and efforts to reduce inequalities.

Strengthening the capacities for climate action of national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities can support the implementation of ambitious actions implied by limiting global warming to 1.5°C. International cooperation can provide an enabling environment for this to be achieved in all countries and for all people, in the context of sustainable development. International cooperation is a critical enabler for developing countries and vulnerable regions. 

Veering away from the IPCC reports for a second, as interesting as they are, let’s look at how the UK is doing more. 

Emissions in the UK fell sharply in 2020 (by 13%) to 435 MtCO2e, which is 48% below 1990 levels. The fall was primarily in transport sectors (surface and air) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and repeated lockdowns. Much of the 2020 fall is likely to be temporary, although that partly depends on the Government’s choices. Action now can lock in beneficial changes seen on walking, cycling and remote working for those that want it, for example through investment in broadband, active travel and public transport.

Now, I’m aware that was a lot to digest, both from a terminology perspective and also an emotional perspective as this is people’s lives we are talking about and there’s still a whole lot of work to be done. Queens university have still not declared a climate emergency because you think it is too controversial and you could potentially lose funding. According to the best available science, we need unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to have a hope of mitigating the affects of the climate crisis, yet you cant even say the words climate emergency? You are a university who are known for your academic excellence, yet your hypocrisy is staggering. This is basic science which you are blatantly ignoring so as you dont lose funding or cause any controversy, but how can you morally accept money from people who support the 6th mass extinction and dont believe basic facts to fund scientific research? 

Queen’s is a member of the Russell Group, which is meant to combine excellence in research and education with a student-centred ethos. Queen’s is ranked 8th in the UK for Research Intensity with over 75% of its research assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in REF 2014. I am shocked at the lack of integrity and honesty seen here. The science is clear. I don’t have a university degree, I’m still waiting on my A level results, yet I know that morally we must fight for climate justice. 

Today is my 94th consecutive week of climate striking. I started when I was 16 years old, and I turn 19 in a few weeks. We have sacrificed years of education to raise awareness of the climate crisis, yet you can’t even declare a climate emergency which is literally just words? We could be asking for more, but a climate declaration is all, and you can’t even reach that bare minimum. The QUB student union have joined our climate strikes. Your own students are in support of a climate emergency declaration. You should respect their views as your students and represent their morals. 

We are watching you. We are holding you accountable and we won’t let you let us down. 

Thank you.

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