Big Issue Vendor

Why climate striking is the only way that Alex White can get his voice heard

The 15-year-old naturalist and wildlife blogger insists the Paris Agreement’s warnings were not heeded

‘We are missing our lessons so we can teach you one’ was just one of the many slogans on display at the Climate Strike in Oxford, where around 1,000 students made the decision to abandon lessons to protest for their future. One primary school pupil said: “I may be small but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference.”

Climate change is a serious threat to the survival of humanity. The Paris Agreement states that all developed countries need to hold the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels so that we have a chance of reducing the risks and impacts of climate change, and yet here we are, school pupils having to miss lessons to gain the attention of decision-makers.

Many people believe that these strikes are just an easy way to skip lessons and even our government thinks that we are a “disruption”. However, I beg to differ. These protests seem to be the only way our voices can be heard. I personally believe that these events are vital in raising awareness of the crisis the planet is in.

What did the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report mean for the future?

The Paris Agreement in 2015 was a historic framework negotiated by 196 countries to address climate change on a worldwide scale. Following the conference, the UN commissioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] to report on how the world is likely to change in the future.

Their findings were published in October last year, recommending urgent action. The report assessed more than 6,000 scientific publications and is 538 pages long, but here are some of the key take-home points:

  • Human activities are estimated to have caused an increase of 1C in average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels
  • Global warming should be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods and extreme heat
  • The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5C, compared with at least once per decade with 2C
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5C is not impossible, but political will to accelerate transitions is key
  • The report highlights a number of climate change consequences that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to 2C, or more
  • At the current level of commitments, the world is on course for 3C of warming by 2100
  • By 2100, global sea level rises would be 10cm lower. On land, impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction, are projected to be lower
  • Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 per cent with global warming of 1.5C, whereas virtually all (more than 99 per cent) would be lost with 2C

Alex White is writing about nature at and @appletonwild