What is Climate Change?
World temperatures are rising because of human actions around the planet. Climate change now threatens every part of our lives.
Without intervention, humans and nature will experience catastrophic warming, which will create worsening droughts, higher sea levels and mass extinction of species.
Many activists protest the biggest polluters while films such as the Netflix hit, Don’t Look Up, attempt to highlight the real threat to climate change. Climate change represents our biggest challenge, but there are potential solutions.
What is climate change?
Climate change refers to long-term changes in temperatures and weather patterns. Variations in the solar cycle are a natural variation that occurs. However, since the 1800s, human activities have been the primary cause of climate change, mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
Burning fossil fuels create greenhouse gas emissions which spread around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.
Common greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. They typically come from using petrol for driving cars and powering several garden tools. Clearing land and forests release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Landfills are one of the biggest sources of methane emissions. Industries among the main emitters of emissions include energy, industry, transport, construction, agriculture and land.
The world is around 1.2°C warmer than it was in the 19th century – and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has grown by 50%.
To avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, scientists say we must slow temperature rises down. Global warming must be kept at 1.5C by 2100. However, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with no changes, the world is likely to exceed 2°C or even 4°C.
Impact of climate change
The impact of climate change can affect our health, housing, work and ability to grow food. Some people are already more vulnerable to climate impacts, especially in small island nations and developing countries. Sea level rises and saltwater intrusion has advanced to the point where entire communities have had to move and droughts are putting people at severe risk of famine. In the future, it’s expected there will be a rise in “climate refugees”.
In some regions, the opposite is already happening with extreme rainfall causing huge flooding – as seen in Belgium, China, Germany and the Netherlands in recent years.
Oceans and habitats are also under serious threat. In Australia, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has lost half of its corals since 1995 because of warmer seas.
Wildfires have become more frequent as hot and dry weather increases. Conversely, frozen ground melting in places such as Siberia has centuries-old greenhouse gases that will be released into the atmosphere.
In a warmer world, animals will find it harder to find food and water. For example, polar bears could die out as the ice they live on melts away. Meanwhile, elephants will find it difficult to get the 150-300 litres of water a day that they need.
What solutions are in place?
Global frameworks and agreements have been put in place to help climate solutions happen that deliver economic benefits alongside improving lives and protecting the environment. These include the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement.
There is a global push to switch to alternative energy systems. This removes the need for fossil fuels and uses renewable energy instead, such as solar or wind. However, that start needs to happen imminently. While more countries are committed to net zero emissions by 2050, half of emissions cuts must take place by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
What can individuals do?
Major changes must be made by governments and businesses to improve our chances of fighting off global warming. However, every person must make small changes to limit the impact of climate change:
- Take fewer flights
- Buy an electric car or ditch your car altogether
- Buy energy efficient electrical including washing machines
- Switch from gas heating to an electric heat pump
- Insulate your home
There’s also another regular activity where you need to question what you use to help save the planet: gardening.
Garden tools and climate change
An often overlooked and unregulated creator of emissions is petrol garden tools. For the last century, petrol has been a common choice of engine for a cordless garden tool as it was the only choice of engine. This has led to lawn mowers, leaf blowers and more being a contributor to emissions while used to help green spaces thrive in our towns and cities.
Over time, there has been a growing need to look into the damage these tools are doing. Back in 2011, a test between a Ford V8 pickup truck and a standard 4-stroke leaf blower found that the leaf blower’s tiny engine produced 6.8 times more nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide than the V8 truck’s engine, and 13.5x more carbon dioxide.
A more recent test carried out by EGO and Challenge 2025 found that 11x more Carbon Monoxide was emitted by a petrol leaf blower when compared to a Ford Fiesta while 50% of the petrol required to run that car was needed just to run a leaf blower. You can discover the impact your petrol garden tools are having on the planet with our emissions calculator.
It’s because of these staggering statistics that EGO and Challenge 2025 exist, pushing the boundaries of battery technology and encouraging the switch so that we can all leave petrol where it belongs, in the past.
It’s not just individuals that need to make the switch, but our local councils too. During our research, we found that 89% of UK councils have petrol power tools which collectively use almost 600,000 litres of fuel – that’s enough fuel to drive around the circumference of the world 80 times.
Steps are in motion to curb their use in our major cities. California is set to ban all petrol-powered mowers by 2024. Los Angeles has already banned petrol-powered leaf blowers in the city, an action also taken in Berlin, Germany. UK cities such as London and Birmingham have clean air zones in place, but this applies to vehicles and not garden tools.
Battery technology has come along tenfold and can replace the harmful petrol power tools we have gotten used to. Find out what you can do today and discover more about our campaign by downloading The Report.