Why Climate Change Matters: Insights and Actions for Our Future
Why Climate Change Matters: Insights and Actions for Our Future

Why Climate Change Matters: Insights and Actions for Our Future

Climate change is an urgent issue that affects us all, now and for generations to come. As we delve into the complexities of this global phenomenon, it is critical to capture the stakes and explore possible solutions.

According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our world is experiencing profound changes due to climate change. Increasingly frequent floods, famines, fires and droughts are becoming the norm, with the poorest communities being hardest hit. While these reports do not predict the collapse of civilization, they underscore the need for urgent action. Climate change has widespread impacts on biodiversity, human livelihoods and social stability. As temperatures rise, the environmental conditions worsen posing additional challenges to global stability.

The projections from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report illustrate expected temperature increases by the year 2100. Each bar graph represents the median temperature rise forecast, with the whiskers indicating the 90% confidence interval, showing the range within which temperatures are most likely to fall. Credit: Climate change – 80,000 Hours (80000hours.org)

According to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, under high-emission scenarios, global temperatures could increase significantly. The report outlines several scenarios:

  • If global action aligns with the Paris Agreement goals (SSP1-1.9), we aim to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Under moderate efforts (SSP1-2.6), we could limit warming to 2°C.
  • Less stringent efforts (SSP2-4.5) would result in slightly higher warming.
  • Reversal of policies (SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5) could lead to significantly higher temperatures.

The report estimates that the earth has 18,635 gigatonnes of carbon in fossil fuel reserves, but only about 2,860 gigatonnes are potentially recoverable with current technology. Releasing all recoverable fossil fuels could lead to atmospheric CO2 concentrations around 2,000 parts per million—significantly higher than the current 415 parts per million and the pre-industrial level of 278 parts per million. Such scenarios could push global temperatures to rise dramatically, triggering catastrophic climate feedback loops.

Despite potential severe disruptions, humanity has a history of adapting to challenges through technological innovation, policy changes, and shifts in societal behavior. Advances in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, have become more cost-effective and offer a sustainable way to reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing economic growth. Addressing climate change effectively requires high-impact actions beyond personal lifestyle changes. Engaging in or supporting policies and technologies that significantly reduce carbon emissions can greatly enhance our collective impact.

The costs of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind have now dropped below those of fossil fuels. Credit: Our World In Data.

The loss of biodiversity is a severe consequence of climate change, potentially disrupting food supplies and altering lifestyles. Preserving our planet’s biodiversity is crucial for the sake of nature and maintaining the ecological balance that supports human life.

The New Zealand Climate Change Effort

The New Zealand government has committed to ambitious climate action. Key initiatives include:

  • Zero Carbon Act: This legislation aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and establishes a Climate Change Commission to advise and monitor progress.
  • Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS): Enhanced to encourage businesses to reduce emissions by capping total greenhouse gases and trading emission allowances.
  • Investment in Renewable Energy: Targeting 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035, significantly reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Conservation Efforts: Increased funding for biodiversity projects and forest conservation to absorb CO₂.

What Can You Do?

  1. Advocacy and Policy: Engage with policymakers or join groups advocating for robust climate policies.
  2. Technology and Innovation: Contribute to solutions that reduce emissions or develop carbon capture technologies.
  3. Education and Awareness: Raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and promote informed decision-making.


The challenges of climate change are daunting but not insurmountable. Through understanding, collective action, and targeted efforts, we can steer towards a sustainable future. Every step counts—through professional roles, personal decisions, or community involvement, we all have the power to influence a resilient and sustainable path forward. Together, we can make a significant impact on our planet’s future.

Further Learning: Climate change – 80,000 Hours (80000hours.org)