UN Report on Climate Change Shows Human Behaviour Must Change

16 August 2021

UN Report on Climate Change Shows Human Behaviour Must Change
New waste facilities will help reduce NI’s greenhouse gas 
A recent major study by the United Nations into climate change has reported that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and irreversible ways.
The report, published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the first major review of the science of climate change since 2013. It states clearly that human behaviour is warming the planet - “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.”
Recent events have highlighted the consequences of global warming, including the wildfires in Greece, Italy and California, the extreme “heat dome” in America, and the devastating floods in Europe and China. The report highlights that this warming will not abate and that the changes we’ve experienced are irreversible. It did state, however, that we could mitigate the current situation if the amount of greenhouse gases emitted were stabilised and reduced.
Tim Walker, arc21’s acting Chief Executive commented on the report,
“This report makes for distressing reading. Studies over the past number of decades have, with increasing detail, highlighted that human behaviour is considerably affecting our climate, but this report confirms just to what extent this is the case – and the parallel impact our activities are having on the world’s biodiversity.
In order to make a tangible difference, it is imperative that we change what we’re doing. Much of the change will have to be driven by Government but we need to produce less waste, keep what we have for longer, recycle more, and make sure that when we throw stuff away, it is used as beneficially as possible.
Regarding waste and resources management, something which local government can affect, if we want to reduce greenhouse gases, we need to look to the waste hierarchy and develop infrastructure which minimises the amount of emissions produced. The DAERA Minister reported earlier this year that over 90% of the emissions from waste are in the form of methane, of which 75% comes from the breaking down of waste anaerobically in landfill. The methane that is produced as landfill waste breaks down is 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and around 80 times more potent over the period in which Government has committed to reach net zero.
By diverting waste from landfill to other facilities, such as arc21’s proposed new waste infrastructure at Hightown Quarry, we can reduce greenhouse gases.
The UN report has been described as code red for humanity, which Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister said should act as a ’frightening wake-up call’.  This report should be the catalyst to take swift action to protect our planet for generations to come.”