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DID CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSE THE KESWICK FLOODS?

After suffering our third "once in a century" flood in a decade it seems clear that the predictions of the climate experts are coming to pass. They predict that extreme weather events will become more frequent as a result of the global warming produced by our emissions of greenhouse gases.

However, there are grounds for optimism following the climate change summit in Paris in December 2015. Here all countries of the World have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions so that the ultimate rise in average global temperature will be less than 20C with the hope that this will even be limited to 1.50C. To put this into perspective, the difference in average global temperature between the last ice age and the present was between 50C and 100C. At the end of that ice age the polar ice cap stretched down to the South of England and civilisations had not developed. So even the small changes of 20C will mean significant differences to our climate. Nevertheless the experts consider that with such an increase the civilisations of the World will be able to adapt to the resulting climate change.

The way that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will be implemented is by each country declaring its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in which countries determine their emission cuts in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities. The current worry is that adding all the presently declared INDCs together will limit the temperature rise to around 30C rather than the aspirational 1.50C.

An agreement was also reached to review the progress at 5 yearly intervals so that pressure can be brought to increase INDCs as and when possible and necessary. This is known as the ratchet mechanism. It is hoped that application of this mechanism in the coming years will result in the necessary level of cuts in emissions. In this way we will be able to leave a World for future generations which is as beautiful as the one we inherited.

Kesmail, February 2016

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