Climate change means global warming, caused by human activities.
Over the last 100 years, the Earth has warmed up significantly. Scientists believe that if immediate action is not taken to reduce a predicted global temperature increase of around 1.5°C, then the effect on the planet will be irreversible.
There is a scientific consensus that the prime cause of climate change is an increase in carbon emissions – greenhouse gases – caused by human activities.
Carbon emissions explained
When greenhouse gases – carbon emissions – are released into the atmosphere, they cause it to warm up. They are produced by a range of human activities.
The most commonly known greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2). We breathe it out and it is also released when fossil fuels – such as oil, coal and gas – are burned.
However, there are range of other similar gases, which include methane (CH4) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
Each gas has a different warming effect on the atmosphere. For example, releasing 1kg of methane into the atmosphere has equivalent effect of around 25kg of CO2.
The CO2 equivalent measure gathers together all the various greenhouse gases and expresses their total environmental effect as tonnes of CO2.
The impact of climate change
Experts believe that millions of people could be affected by climate change.
Global sea levels will rise as it becomes warmer. For example, if the temperature in the UK rises 2°C by 2050, estimates suggest that 2.6 million people will be living in areas with a significant flood risk.
In addition, scientists believe that climate change will lead to more outbreaks of extreme weather, such as hurricanes or severe thunderstorms.
Estimates also suggest there will be significant damage to the global economy, possibly running into billions of pounds.
The construction industry
As a whole, the built environment – buildings and infrastructure – produces a significant amount of emissions.
The same is true of transport, which includes car, lorry and vehicle use.
Because of this, Skanska believes that the construction industry has a big role to play in reducing emissions.
We would prefer to lead the transition to a low carbon future rather than follow it.