|The earth's climate has been constantly changing over time. At the moment, the average global temperature is 15C and although it has been higher and lower in the past, this period of warming has happened far more rapidly. This has lead scientists to be concerned that the natural fluctuation of the past is being overtaken by changes due to human activity.||
The increase in global temperature has already had a noticeable effect on the environment including: shrinking glaciers, ice on rivers and lakes breaking up earlier, trees flowering sooner, loss of sea ice, rising sea levels and longer more intense heat.
What once were predictions by scientists are now a reality.
195 countries have signed up to tackling climate change by signing up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which has four key areas:
- Adapting to climate change
- Finance to enable action on mitigation and adaption
- Mitigation of GHG emissions
- Technology development and transfer to allow green development
The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 set a 5% reduction in GHG emissions between 2008 and 2012, to which 37 industrialised countries committed. However, it was not enough to offset the rapidly increasing emissions from countries who didn't take up this commitment. The second phase of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 is now in place.
The UK has a legally binding commitment to the reduction of GHG through the Climate Change Act 2008 which sets out the framework to develop a targeted and economically-credible plan to reduce current and future emissions.
The Climate Change Act commits the government to reducing GHG emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
The Climate Change Act requires the UK government to set legally-binding Carbon Budgets on the amount of Greenhouse Gases they emit each year over a five year period.
The first five budgets are in place and will run until 2032.
More information about Climate Change and what the UK government is doing is available HERE.
Manchester has created it's own action plan called Manchester: A Certain Future which sets out the following aims:
- To reduce the city's carbon emissions by 41% by 2020
- To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in a process of cultural change that embeds low carbon thinking into the lifestyle and operations of the city
- Prepare for and actively adapt to a rapidly changing climate
- Make a rapid transition to a low carbon economy
Sustainability is a concept that was first coined from the Brundtland Report's definition of sustainable development in 1987: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
There is no single universal definition of sustainability. In practice, it aims to use resources without them being completely destroyed, degraded or used up so there are some left over for use by future generations.
Sustainability is important as we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings on this planet and the Earth's ecosystems unless we embrace it. To put it simply, our global future depends on it.
Sustainability needs to be addressed and we need to implement change as if not, the Earth will be damaged beyond repair. We must find a way to reduce our harmful impacts on the environment.
The UN's Sustainable Development Goals introduced in 2015 are listed HERE.
The University has its own sustainability strategy, which is important as the largest single-site University in the UK with over 38,000 students and 12,000 staff.
The strategy has four key strategic objectives:
- Research with impact
- Socially responsible graduates
- Responsible processes
- Engaging our communities
Further information can be found on the Environmental Sustainability team's website HERE
Here at the Students' Union we are doing so many things to become more sustainable. Here are some of the ways we are taking a more sustainable approach:
- Biko's Bikes
- Meat Free Mondays
- Food waste bins
- Sourcing from local suppliers
- Future U building developments
- Student Action Projects
- Campaigns & Citizen Officer