The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) newest publication on ‘Mitigation and Climate Change’, highlights a very important message to all of us: It’s still possible to limit average global temperature rise to 2°C! However we have to rapidly reduces emissions and changes its current energy mix.
Available science has made it clear that humans are greatly influencing our planet’s climate, and the future looks dire unless we commit to strong actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the European Wilderness Society has been advocating for a transition to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.
Accelerating climate change clearly puts Europe’s forest into risk! Europe’s forests are some of the areas of greatest concern when it comes to assessing the impacts of climate change.
Europe’s forests cover around 1 000 million hectares. This is about 30 times the size of Poland. Presently, the proportion of forests in relation to Europe’s total land area is 47%. However the distribution of forest is not well-balanced in our continent. 81% of Europe’s forest area is located in the Russian Federation.
Our forests provide key habitat for wildlife, help to conserve the water we drink, prevent erosion and are also great for outdoor recreation. But they’re being wiped out. Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation are causing tree mortality at alarming rates across the west, permanently altering ecosystems.
There’s a clear intersection between our forests and our changing climate. Trees absorb heat and help to keep the climate cool. Large forests play a role in the water cycle by creating the right conditions to control rainfall patterns. Forests can also act as a solution to climate change as they remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere.
The disappearance of forests on regional levels is strongly linked to periods of drought that are worsened by climate change. Droughts and forest fires have become more frequent, prolonged and severe especially in the Mediterranean region of Europe. This makes them vulnerable to an expansion of pests such as beetles, borers and pathogenic fungi. Droughts also lead to flash-flooding when rain finally returns to a region, causing run-offs and flash flooding that often impact fresh drinking water sources.
So if we care about forests and wilderness, we clearly have to care about the IPCC report. Here are six things you need to know about the level of emissions reductions needed to rein in runaway warming:
1) Without Explicit Action, We Could See More than 4°C of Warming.
2) Limiting Warming to 2°C Is Still Possible.
3) Staying Within the Carbon Budget Requires Immediate Action.
4) We’ll Need to Phase Out Emissions Entirely in the Long-Term.
5) We’ll Need Action from All Regions of the World.
6) Shifting to a Low-Emissions Pathway Requires a Large-Scale Transformation.
The description of these 6-point summary is available here!