Responding to news that in 2023 global warming surpassed the 1.5 degree Celsius limit which was set in the 2015 Paris agreement, Dr Julie Riggs, Director of Education and Membership at British Safety Council, said:
“Humanity is in code red. We are now accelerating towards 2C of global warming, above which the devastation to our environment and the risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of workers around the world will grow exponentially.
“We must not allow further catastrophic erosion of our fragile living conditions. Even though the current rate of temperature increase may not continue at the current rate, as El Nino subsides, our window of opportunity is shrinking. We must act now to save lives and our planet, and we all have a part to play.
“Employers and workers will need to adapt and manage the new risks. We would urge all employers to conduct an analysis of climate risk impact to their business, including extreme weather, an increase of biological risks, and increased risk of accidents. Consider those that may be more vulnerable to climate related hazards, help educate your workforce on how to protect their health and wellbeing, and expand risk assessment programmes, health assessments, and control measures to incorporate management of climate change impact.”
According to the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service, between February 2023 and January 2024 the world saw 1.52C of warming above pre-industrial levels. While a 1.5C rise in our own thermostat may not be particularly noticeable, the world’s ice caps are melting at a rapid rate, sea levels are rising, wildfires are rampant and extreme weather is more frequent.
An additional devastating consequence of climate change is the displacement of approximately 32.6 million people in 2022, a figure which is expected to rise to 700 million by 2030.