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How to answer your colleagues’ questions about climate change

Showing off your green credentials at work and doing your bit to save the planet isn’t always easy as you may often find your colleagues aren’t on the same page.

Although more people are beginning to appreciate the changes we need to make together to be eco-friendly, you may still find Bill from accounts won’t switch off his computer at the end of the day because he thinks global warming is a myth.

But we can help. Having the facts at your fingertips will ensure you have the right answers when Bill or his friend Ben, who leaves the lights burning from dawn until dusk in the meeting room even though it is only used for an hour a day, question you.

We have pulled together some of the most common misconceptions we hear on a regular basis to provide you with the facts behind them.

When your colleagues are challenging you about your insistence on turning lights off at the end of the day, or not leaving electric heaters switched on in an empty room, you will be equipped with the answers.

And, don’t forget, taking action to lower emissions will not only benefit the planet, but it will also benefit your business’s bottom line with lower energy costs.

1. There's no climate emergency, global temperatures have always fluctuated 

Anyone who learned about the Ice Age at school knows that the earth has always experienced a range of temperatures. That much is true, but changes in the earth’s temperature in the past were caused by external factors – the earth’s position in relation to the sun, and the increase in CO2 emissions because of volcanic eruptions. 

And those changes happened over periods of hundreds or thousands of years. The changes we are seeing now are happening much more quickly and are driven by the higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) annual report in 2020 reported that average land and sea temperatures had increased on average by 0.08oC every 10 years since 1880. The increases now being seen are more than twice that rate.

This increase in levels is because of the changes in how we live – the number of cars on the road; the burning of fossil fuels for heat; the removal of rainforests. These are all human-led causes that can be altered.

2. Don't blame humans for climate change, it's the sun's fault

It really isn’t. As mentioned above, changes to the pattern of the Earth’s orbit round the sun can make a difference, but over very long periods. We are observing severe changes each decade, with temperatures rising 0.15-0.2oC per decade since 1975. Those changes are not caused by the sun.

3. How can we talk about global warming when it's still cold? 

The Earth’s climate is being severely disrupted by the steady rise in temperature. We are seeing more extremes of weather, from heatwaves to droughts and flooding to snowstorms. News reports over the past few years have featured more and more stories about weather-related crises across the globe.

News reports of wildfires in Greece and flooding in Turkey may seem a world away from what is happening in Scotland, but we are feeling the effects of global warming too. In 2018 the increased temperatures were held responsible for the speedy spread of Dutch Elm Disease in the Highlands, and flooding across the country is becoming more commonplace.

Businesses can suffer with disruption to the supply chain and coastal premises could be at risk of disappearing.

4. Climate change isn't something we need to worry about just yet

The IPCC “Code Red” report tells us otherwise. We can no longer ignore what is happening to our planet. If we are to have a chance of stopping global warming the report says we need to cut global emissions by around 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.  

5. Talk of climate change is a myth to try to make us invest in more expensive renewable energy 

There is sufficient scientific evidence to prove the reality of climate change. Switching to renewable fuels is something we can do to lower our emissions and make a positive contribution to halting the crisis. And it doesn’t need to be more expensive. Like most new technologies when they hit the market, renewable energy costs can seem quite high, but prices fall and renewable fuels are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels.

A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed that between 2010 and 2019 the cost of solar PV globally fell by 82%. 

6. Not all countries are responsible for climate change 

It is true, some countries are bigger culprits than others. China, India, the United States, Japan and Russia are the top five countries that produce the most carbon dioxide emissions. On that list the UK is 17th, producing 1.1% of global emissions. But fighting the climate crisis cannot be put on the shoulders of one or two countries, we all have a part to play.

7. There's nothing we can do to stop climate change

There are a lot of things we can do. From switching your fleet to electric cars, installing a heat pump or solar PV panels at your premises, every little step will make a positive contribution. Of course, key industry sectors need to make big changes to the way they operate, but we can all play our part.

8. We shouldn't cut CO2 – plants need it

Yes, they do. But the problem we have now created is that more and more trees are being cut down, so there simply aren’t nearly enough of them left to absorb the huge amounts of CO2 we send into the atmosphere each year. Lots of work is being done to replant forests in Scotland and all around the world, but if we want to tackle the climate, we also need to cut our emissions. 

9. Scientists cannot agree on if climate change is a thing

More than 200 scientists contributed to the “Code Red” report, all agreeing that we were in a climate crisis. Also, according to NASA, 97% or more of scientists agree that human actions are responsible for the changes to our climate.

10. Climate change isn't dangerous 

Seeing reports of wildfires and flooding across the world tells us otherwise. And the IPCC “Code Red” report tells us it will only get worse.

Tackling the climate crisis is not going to happen overnight, but it is clear we can no longer ignore it. We, as in the human race, have to take responsibility and do what we can to preserve the planet for future generations.

You can take the first step today by finding out how we can help you cut your energy bills and emissions.

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