Why is carbon a focus?
Reports from Leeds Climate Commission have predicted that Leeds could become a carbon-neutral city by 2050. This is in line with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.
We achieve carbon-neutrality by balancing the amount of carbon we release with actions which offset this. For example, we can plant trees to absorb and store carbon.
But why is there such a strong focus towards reducing carbon emissions?
The Earth is surrounded by a layer of gases (including carbon), otherwise known as the atmosphere. The atmosphere regulates the Earth’s temperature by absorbing the sun’s heat and keeping the planet warm. However, peak levels of atmospheric carbon are having an effect on global climate like never before. As carbon is a heat-trapping gas and is stored in the atmosphere, the Earth is warming at an alarming rate.
This warming (commonly known as climate change) is changing habitats across the face of the planet more quickly than animals can adapt. Human health is also affected. For instance, mosquito-borne diseases spread more readily in warmer conditions, and droughts and floods lead to malnutrition. Finally, natural resources may become scarce under a heating climate. Most food crops depend on very specific climate conditions to grow well. Fisheries and corals are suffering the effects of climate change as a result of increasing atmospheric carbon.
The reality is that humans actions, such as deforestation and burning coal an oil, are unlocking more carbon than the Earth naturally would. This also means that humans are key to the solution of reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Together we can create a better outcome to what is now being called a climate emergency.