Arctic melt link to UK carbon emissions

| 10th April 2019
Arctic ice melt

(Image: Bjorn Alfthan/UNEP - www.grida.no)

WWF warns UK carbon emissions equates to the loss of an area of ice greater than the size of Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham.

What is happening in the Arctic is nothing short of a crisis and the world needs to wake up and act.

The UK's carbon emissions in 2018 are linked to the loss of more than 1,000 square kilometres of Arctic sea ice, conservationists have said.

WWF has calculated the impact of the UK's pollution using research which reveals the reduction in average sea ice cover in the Arctic in September for each tonne of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.

The conservation charity warned the carbon emissions put out by the UK in 2018 equates to the loss of an area of ice greater than the size of Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham combined.

Satellite

The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the average for the world with severe impacts for wildlife, WWF warned, as it called on the government to declare a "climate emergency".

Rod Downie, chief polar adviser at WWF said: "What is happening in the Arctic is nothing short of a crisis and the world needs to wake up and act.

"Sea ice decline is one of the most visible signs of climate change on our planet. And it's not just crucial to Arctic people and species like polar bears and walrus, but to the health of the planet as a whole.

"The bright surface of the ice reflects sunlight away from the planet and back into space, helping to keep our planet cool. "But when this ice melts, it is replaced by dark ocean which absorbs the sun's rays, heating up our planet."

He said the 12 lowest Arctic sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the last 12 years.

Generation

Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest extent for the year around September at the end of the summer melting season before winter weather causes the ice cover to increase again.

WWF wants the UK Government to make climate action a priority, end support for fossil fuels, including stopping fracking and airport expansion, and invest in the clean economy including renewables and electric vehicles.

The charity is also urging ministers to restore the environment at home and abroad, to help nature cope with climate change and commit the UK to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate at WWF said: "We have the solutions at our fingertips, but what we're missing is the political will to deliver them in time.

"We are the last generation who can halt catastrophic climate change. That is why we need to make our voices heard and fight for our world."

The call comes as WWF and Netflix's documentary series Our Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, shows the impact of climate change on the natural world, including the harm to walruses of shrinking sea ice cover.

This Author

Emily Beament is the environment correspondent for the Press Association.

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