What stirs you up most when it comes to talking about the climate crisis?

For a long while, the science-led narrative has focused on stopping the relentless rise in global temperature and its harmful impacts. The climate clock counts down the time remaining for us to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a threshold temperature to avoid more extreme weather events. In fact, the UK made “keep 1.5 alive” the rallying cry at the global climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, as a means for nations to agree on bigger emissions reductions.

Measuring our progress against net-zero targets has been another way of encouraging people and organisations to make changes for the better. Earlier this month, there was an outcry when Scotland scrapped its target to cut emissions by 75% by 2030. Scotland was the headline, but the full story was left untold: across the entire UK, emissions are not decreasing at the pace required to meet our future targets.

For the first time on record, in January 2024, global warming exceeded temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius over a 12-month period. Scientists said, however, that the world has not yet permanently breached this threshold. Nonetheless, something feels very wrong with this year-long breach and the fact that more people are not taking notice.

In a significant research update, released this month, Britain Talks Climate identified the top concerns of the British population about the climate crisis. The impacts of climate change over the next 10 years that people worry about the most include the harm we are causing to nature; the negative impact on our children’s future; increasing flood risk; and suffering for the world’s poorest. One of the biggest concerns (in the top three for all segments of the population) is that climate change will cause bills and other living costs to rise.

According to a report published in the journal Nature in April 2024 – the most comprehensive and localised analysis of its type ever undertaken – the permanent average loss of income worldwide as a result of the climate crisis will be nearly a fifth by 2050, in comparison to a baseline without the impacts of climate breakdown. Projected average income losses in the UK, combined with the cost of destruction each year from more frequent and intense extreme weather in this country, will inevitably increase the current cost of living.

The report is also very clear: reducing emissions is far cheaper than doing nothing and accepting more severe impacts. Falling behind on the UK’s net-zero targets should be a red flag for everyone, because it unnecessarily adds more costs to our lives. Our elected representatives, responsible for creating a more positive policy environment for change, cannot afford to ignore a concern that is troubling most of their constituents.

The good news? We have the power to do something about it!

In a year when we expect a general election in the UK, we can boost local community campaigning with live local data from the Local Intelligence Hub. This online hub, run by The Climate Coalition and mySociety, makes it obvious where your current MP stands on the climate issue relative to local public opinion, as well as highlighting some of the local groups that are working hard for climate and nature. Now that should stir things up!