After a busy year, and as everyone rushes to get everything done before the festive season, we at The Carbon Report like to use this time to look back and reflect on the breakthroughs, changes and potential pitfalls that 2015 brought with it. Our primary concern is that of environmental sustainability and climate change, and this year has seen many big milestones being reached – both positive and negative. Below are five of the major achievements and changes that happened around the world in 2015.
- THE HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD
The increased level of greenhouse gases and the strong El Niño weather patterns have made 2015 the hottest year ever recorded, and the records date back to 1850! Moving out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak, this year’s El Niño will probably see next year being even hotter. Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. This massive increase in global temperature average has resulted in the likely breach of the one-degree threshold; an upper limit above the pre-industrial temperatures set by international climate scientists that marks the half way point of reaching catastrophic events (floods, droughts, and worse). Once that line has been crossed, temperatures will increase more rapidly toward the two-degree mark unless something significant is done. Fortunately global leaders are taking note and finally some action is being taken.
- COMMITMENT FROM GLOBAL LEADERS
On that action, global leaders are currently meeting in Paris for a major U.N. Climate Summit, otherwise known as COP21, which is described below.
In addition to this, several world leaders had already started to address the issue of climate change, the most notable of which being Obama’s visit to the Alaskan Arctic, which he even documented on Instagram. The more serious commitments made include the G7 leaders agreeing to decarbonise, where leaders from U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan agreed to achieving entirely non-polluting forms of energy creation in the next century.
This year marks the 21st annual United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where the Conference of Parties (COP) meet to deliberate about climate change – hence the name COP21. The conference started on 30 November and is due to finish next week, on 11 December, and given the recent findings about our current state of affairs, will hopefully see some results. 147 Heads of State and Government are in attendance, and thus far (3 December), everyone seems to be in agreement: the world is in peril and we all need to work together to save it.
- EARTH HOUR
In 2015, Earth Hour shattered records to become the biggest ever grass-roots environmental event. 172 countries and territories took part in the global lights-out campaign, showing a significant increase in the movement toward and support for climate action. The record-breaking evening gave us hope in humanity, and indeed the world, with respect to leaving a better legacy for the generations to come.
- TESLA’S POWERWALL
On 30 April 2015, Elon Musk – a South African making serious waves in climate change – announced Tesla’s new backup electricity supply, the PowerWall. This important development will fill in the gap for widespread adoption of renewables in domestic, commercial and industrial applications. Previous stationary batteries, which were both bulky and costly, hindered the uptake of this renewable energy source. However, the PowerWall, which is smaller, sleeker and cheaper than alternatives, can power the average home for several hours. The revolutionary battery charges through solar panels or the electrical grid during off-peak demand hours and then supplies the home when demand is high. The system is well worth the US$3,000 or US$3,500 one would spend on it, be it for ‘green’ or cost-saving reasons, as is evident from that fact that it sold out in just over a week.
Although 2015 was the hottest year on record, bringing with it the approach of the one-degree threshold, it’s reassuring to see that both world leaders and private corporates are committing themselves to positive environmental change. That said, we all need to contribute to the welfare of this planet we share, so let this be the motivation you needed to make change in your life, no matter how big. If you would like to have your energy audited and find out how to reduce your consumption, or reduce your carbon emissions, please feel free to get in touch with us.