Is Jersey doing enough about climate change?
Climate change is already having an impact in Jersey. Have you noticed the changes, if you have ideas about what we can do to combat the changes why not join the conversation and share your thoughts? If you’d like to understand more first, then read on.
Our average annual air temperature has increased by 1.16°C since 1900 but did you know that seven of the ten hottest years on record have happened since 2000?
We are also seeing more rainfall – 2020 was the wettest year on record and we are getting more rainfall in winter but less rainfall during summer months.
Because sea levels are rising, we see more flooding in low-lying coastal areas, such as the area around Beaumont.
Where do our greenhouse gas emissions come from?
When explaining what climate change means we spoke about the greenhouse effect, the warming of the atmosphere caused by releasing of greenhouse gases from activities such as burning fossil fuels.
Most of our on–island emissions (which are called Scope 1) come from things like transport and heating. All of these are measured so we can set targets to reduce them and see when our actions and policies make a difference.
This bubble graph below shows where all our on-island emissions come from by sector. When you look at this graph it is easy to see why we focus on transport and heating as they are our biggest sources of emissions. If you look very carefully, you will see a tiny orange circle that represents emissions from land use change, that is the only minus figure on the graph and what it tells us is that some of our land absorbs greenhouse gases.
Making our journey to carbon neutral fair
Social and climate issues are interlinked. Climate action is seen as a great opportunity to tackle a number of social justice issues at once. The changes that we put in place to become carbon neutral will have an impact on all our lives, but it is important that the impacts are fair for all.
Within the Carbon Neutral Strategy, we have committed to a ‘Just Transition’ meaning any climate policies put in place will not worsen our islands’ inequality overall.
A crucial part of ensuring a ‘Just Transition’ is the process of understanding what the impacts of decarbonisation are going to be across the local community. The Climate Conversations and the Citizens’ Assembly have been set up to enable all stakeholders to be meaningfully involved in decision-making. The next step will be to make sure that all the costs and benefits of becoming carbon neutral are fairly distributed.
It’s a double crisis - biodiversity and climate
Jersey has a long history of protecting the environment and working to enhance the island’s natural beauty.
One sixth of our island is classed as natural vegetation. This is land that is not built on or farmed or used for things like golf courses, gardens, and parks. Instead, natural vegetation is our woodlands, dunes, cliffs, and grasslands.
But we are in a double crisis, this is a pivotal moment for the natural world as we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction on record. The climate and nature crises cannot be separated; they compound, and speed up one another. To address one, we need to also address the other.
What are the benefits we get from our natural environment?
The benefits provided to humans by the natural environment are called ecosystem services. These are the things nature does for free, the things we need to live our lives such as food, water, and recreation.
During the pandemic we’ve seen an increased connection to nature. Spending time in nature helps improve peoples’ mental health and physical wellbeing; it reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
We need healthy ecosystems to be able to change and adapt to the effects of climate change. Conservation can play a crucial role in this. This includes trees sucking up carbon from the atmosphere (carbon sequestration) and flood plains providing natural protection against extreme weather events.
There are lots of well-known local businesses and voluntary groups that organise activities that help in our collective efforts to tackle climate change. We know that there are lots more out there and we want to hear about them – so if you are active then use this conversation to promote yourselves and gather some more volunteers!