What are Greenhouse gases?

    Greehouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat from the sun inside the earth's atmosphere. The more GHGs that are in our atmosphere (e.g., from burning fossil fuels), the more heat is trapped. This raises the temperature of the air, ocean and water, changing the conditions in which we live, and changes weather globally and locally.

    What is Climate Change?

    Climate is the “average weather” in a location, over some time ranging from months up to thousands of years. Climate change refers to a change in the climate that continues for decades or longer. The global climate has changed over long periods of time naturally, but more recent and rapid climate change is being attributed to human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, oil) and land use changes (deforestation, development, etc). The average global temperature on earth has increased by more than 1⁰ Celsius since 1880. 

    Why is a change of 1.5⁰C important?

    Going above 1.5 degrees of warming puts millions more at risk of potentially life-threatening heatwaves, natural disasters, and poverty. It also causes large ecosystem impacts like wiping out coral reefs, which entire ecosystems rely on worldwide. 

    In the past, a -1⁰C to -2⁰C change took the earth into the Little Ice Age. Approx. 20,000 years ago it was a -5⁰ change that caused the Ice Age, burying most of North American under the towering mass of ice that created fjords like Western Brook Pond.

    What hazards are most closely related to climate change?

    Hazards most closely associated with climate change include flooding, forest fires, wind, erosion, invasive species, storm surge, reduced ice quantity and quality, and drought conditions.

    Why is climate change an "emergency"?

    Climate change is an urgent worldwide crisis that has often been referred to as an "emergency". The climate science is clear: allowing average global temperature rise to exceed an increase of 1.5°C will disrupt global social, economic, and ecological systems, with severe consequences for the most vulnerable populations. Global temperature is likely to reach an increase of 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) continue to increase at current global rates, and the window to curve this is closing very quickly. Because on time spans relevant to humans, once released the GHG emissions are in our environment essentially forever. It does not go away, unless we, ourselves, remove it, it is seen as critical that we curb the GHG emissions from all levels of community as soon as possible.

    What local economic and environmental benefits can we expect from this plan?

    The local analysis shows that this transition provides an opportunity to create an economic net benefit for St. John's of $5.4 billion including new business opportunities, 1,800 new jobs, improving built environment, reducing household energy costs by up to 50%, while stimulating innovation and improving health outcomes. The investment required across our community would be the equivalent of 6.7% of our provincial GDP or 12% of the St. John's CMA's GDP per year.   

    Additional benefits from adapting to climate change include less damage costs to residents and businesses (e.g., insurance claims), less disruptions to business, a more resilient natural environment, collaboration on innovation, and an opportunity to realize benefits from opportunities like a longer growing season.  

    Climate action is not just about avoiding the human and environmental crisis of climate change; it's about cashing in on significant new local, national and global economic opportunities.