A new report from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reveals that 2021 is the fifth warmest year on record. This report also shows that the last seven years have been the warmest years on record. This record warns us to take more ambitious actions for climate change.
The average rise of the earth’s temperature in 2021 reaches 1.1°-1.2° Celsius. In 2015, 197 countries in the world signed the Paris Agreement to fight against climate change by limiting the rise of the earth’s temperature to 2° Celsius and pursuing the action to restrict it to 1.5° Celsius. This agreement aims to avoid the environmental catastrophe caused by climate change. However, the increase of the earth’s temperature of 1.1°-1.2° Celsius in 2021 has already shown alarming impacts on the environment.
It can be seen by a lot of natural disasters in 2021, starting from a deathly flood in Western Europe that kills more than 200 people to heatwaves in the Mediterranean that triggers wildfire in Turkey and Greece. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) claims there are 3.078 disasters in 2021. Those disasters are mostly related to climate change. One of the most concerning disasters in 2021 is a prolonged flood that submerges thousands of houses in Sintang Regency, West Kalimantan.
Carbon Dioxide and Methane Emissions Continue to Rise
Although 2021 is not warmer than 2020 (the second warmest year on record), climate change is still a serious threat. The cooler temperature in 2021 is caused by a climatic phenomenon known as La Nina, which makes the sea surface temperature in the central Pacific Ocean lower than normal.
“The really important thing is not get hung up on the ranking of one particular year but rather kind of see the bigger picture of the ever-warming temperature, and that ever-warming temperature doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the next”, said Freza Vamborg, a senior scientist at Copernicus, to CNN.
Furthermore, this report shows that the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, as the most significant greenhouse gas emissions, continue to rise. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaches 414.3 ppm in 2021. This emission mostly comes from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum used for industry and energy.
Besides carbon dioxide, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere also shows an increasing trend. The concentration of methane reaches 1876 ppb. However, scientists still don’t know the reason why methane concentrations rise in the atmosphere. Methane gas is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It usually comes from livestock, agriculture, and waste disposal.
We Need More Ambitious Climate Action
To reach the target of the Paris Agreement and prevent climate change, we need more ambitious climate action. World leaders in 2021 have made some pledges to fight climate change at the COP 26, a UN conference on climate change. For instance, 40 countries have committed to shifting away from coal, 100 countries have pledged to end deforestation and reduce methane emission by 30% in 2030.
Yet, some scientists believe that these pledges are not enough to tackle climate change. According to the Glasgow Climate Pact, carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by 45% by 2030, but with the current emission reduction target, scientists estimate that emissions will increase by 14% by 2030.
However, we still have to be optimistic to take action on climate change. We still have to raise our voice to world leaders to make more ambitious commitments to address climate change. We can also take climate action with simple acts in our daily lives by trying to adopt sustainable lifestyles. Small acts that support sustainable consumption and production such as reducing single-use plastic and electricity also matter.