Always On My Mind

The climate isn't only on my mind at work. Here in my home state of New South Wales Australia, we are currently experiencing what is turning into the worst drought on record, worse than the millennium drought. This is leading to the drying up of our inland river systems, precipitous drops in Sydney’s water storages and the prospect that some inland towns may run out of water this summer (indeed, some towns are already surviving on trucked water). Images of mass fish kills, drought stricken live stock and wildlife are bringing this reality home to people in the city - we’ve started water restrictions and have switched on our desalination plant (The Government is considering doubling it size).

The latest IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land shows that over the past 60 years, global population growth and rises in per capita consumption of food, feed, fibre, timber and energy have caused unprecedented rates of land and freshwater use. These shifts have contributed to increasing net GHG emissions, loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity. Agriculture, forestry, other land use and the global food system accounted for 21-37% of net anthropogenic emissions. The observed mean land surface air temperature has increased by 1.53°C (considerably more than the mean increase, which includes ocean surfaces). This warming has resulted in an increased frequency, intensity and duration of temperature related events, including heat waves and droughts. Climate change has already affected food security due to warming, changing precipitation patterns, and greater incidence of extreme events.

We here at ISSP are hoping that the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York will boost ambition, accelerate action, and inject urgency into the "race to the top" among countries, companies, cities and civil society: The momentum that is needed to achieve the ambitious objectives of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

As sustainability professionals, we play a vital role in facilitating socio-economic choices that can reduce or exacerbate climate related risks as well as influence the rate of temperature increase. This responsibility is a central theme at our upcoming Global Congress, convened in partnership with the Association of Climate Change Officers (working sessions and plenaries just announced!).

If you haven't already, I encourage you to follow or join our ongoing dialogue about the event on SocialLink (contact if you have any trouble logging in). We have been talking about how the Congress will be different and what you will gain from making time to attend next December.