Trustees of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) have declared a climate and ecology emergency, arguing that even if the country achieves net zero emissions by 2050 and adapts to limit global heating to 1.5°C, it won’t be enough. In doing so it follows in the wake of the British Government, which declared a climate emergency on 1 May. However, its pledge to achieve net zero emissions within the organisation by 2030 goes a step further than the country-wide 2050 target announced by Theresa May in June.
CIWEM is the only Royal Chartered Professional Body dedicated to the water and environment sector, representing a community of thousands of members and organisations in more 89 countries. The declaration was made at the same time as the Government’s independent climate advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, warned that England is off-track to meet its emissions reduction targets and is unprepared for the impacts of a hotter world. Terry Fuller, chief executive of CIWEM said: ‘The government’s advisers have spelled it out: despite pledges on net zero, action isn’t matching ambition. We recognise that achieving net zero by 2050 domestically won’t avert the kind of disastrous global heating projected under current trends. That’s why we’re setting a net zero target of 2030 for our own organisation and will be developing a detailed action plan in the coming months to achieve it and make sure we lead from the front, including strong advocacy internationally through our overseas members.’
With more than 10,000 experts on flooding, coastal change, drought and managing the natural environment within CIWEM’s ranks, the organisation believes that it is uniquely placed to mobilise those with answers to the urgent challenges posed by climate change. The official CIWEM declaration states that ‘environmental professionals hold the key to developing and implementing solutions to the climate and ecological emergency.’ The organisation’s first commitment is to create climate and ecological champions of its members.
Fuller’s overall message was one of both adaptation and resilience. ‘We can plan, adapt and build resilience to a 4°C hotter world, though we must do everything to avert it in the first place,’ he said. ‘We know how to do this, and we’ll be working with everyone from government to the public to ensure difficult choices aren’t ducked and ambition is translated into real action on the ground.’
CIWEM aren’t the only ones to see value in publicly declaring a climate emergency. In the US, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders announced their proposal for a resolution declaring a national climate emergency on Tuesday and more than 7,000 colleges and universities across the globe declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, jointly unveiling a three-point plan to address the crisis.
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