SCIENTISTS are agreed. There is a climate emergency caused by human activity and that unless we act quickly, the livelihoods (and possibly lives) of millions of people are under threat.

Myths still abound however as to the seriousness of the issue.

Myth 1. Britain is on target to achieve its goals

Not True. While our rate of decarbonisation has been impressive, a recent government report made it clear that we are projected to fall short in 2023 and beyond. So no cause for celebration.

Myth 2: We only emit one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so we should focus on influencing other countries like China, the US, India, Japan and Russia.

This is an incorrect figure as it excludes international aviation and imported goods and an incorrect conclusion.

Technically we emit a small proportion of the world’s emissions - but we buy imported goods that have a heavy carbon footprint - and we fly a lot.

In addition, CO2 has a very long life. Much of the CO2 we pumped out in the 1950s is still in the atmosphere.

In addition to this historical obligation of reparation, we have an opportunity to lead in green science development. We thus have a vital and direct global role to play in reducing carbon emissions.

Myth 3: We can restrict warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrialised levels.

Perhaps not a myth but, on our current trajectory, practically impossible. A PWC report suggests that between 2°C and 3°C centigrade is probably the best we can hope for. Even that will take a monumental effort beyond what we are currently doing.

Myth 4: 2°C to 3°C is not going to be that bad.

It will be disastrous. Hundreds of millions of people around the world could be without fresh water, millions will lose their homes to flooding, species will die, sea levels will rise substantially, the coral reef will be mostly destroyed, weather systems will become more violent, diseases will spread and food supplies could be adversely affected.

Sadly, climate change is not the only problem on the horizon. We have recently been warned about the danger to human existence through rapid biodiversity loss.

We can avoid disaster, but only if we all work together, at across all levels of government.

Last summer, my colleague Dyan Jones and I held public meetings throughout the district, as a result of which the council is implementing a 25-point action plan. But we want to do more.

We will be repeating those meetings this summer to discuss what more we can do. I hope you can join us.

Giles Archibald

Leader SouthLakeland District Council.