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Putting the callipers on climate change

More frequent and intense bushfires and increased floods are just some of the things in store for Australia unless we immediately reduce our carbon emissions, a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) again confirmed this week.

We've known for a long time that carbon emissions are causing climate change, but the report has highlighted just how dire the situation is.

Heat extremes have increased and cold extremes have decreased. Sea levels are rising and sandy shores are retreating. These trends are projected to continue

The report shows that Australian land areas have warmed by around 1.4°C since 1910. If we reach levels of warming of 1.5°C or 2.0°C we will be well and truly cooked and experience changes in several climatic impact-drivers including heatwaves, droughts and floods. The story is the same for the rest of the world.

Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or 2°C will be beyond reach.

"The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

However, the report shows that human actions still have the potential to stabilise the climate, but that this will require “strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions”.

One way we can work towards this is to swap car trips for bike rides. Most car trips in Australia are short – a few kilometres to work, a quick nip to the shops, the school pick up. It's a reason why transport accounts for almost 20 per cent of Australia's emissions, but these trips can change.

To help people swap from the car to the bike we need to see more help from governments. This includes well-connected bike networks where riders are protected from other road users plus state and federal strategies that help people get into bike lanes.

Bicycle Network recently made a submission to the Victorian Government, providing feedback on the multi-system Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (CCAAP), a strategy that will inform the key actions the state takes for adapting to climate risks over the next five years.

It also made a submission to the recent review of the Tasmanian Climate Action Plan to guide the formation of a new 2021–26 plan. 

Click here to read the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

Click here to see Bicycle Network's climate change campaign page and submissions to governments

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.

Become a member during spring and score a Bicycle Network jersey worth $90. Offer ends Sunday 31 October.

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