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2018 was a year that brought us several environmental concerns – rising temperatures and sea levels globally, extreme weather including the heatwave across the northern hemisphere, wildfires in Sweden, drought in the UK, floods in India and typhoons in south-east Asia.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global body of the world’s leading climate scientists, recently produced a document that looks at what the future will look like if the planet experiences 1.5C (2.7F) of global warming. Although this number seems insignificant, it would lead to a massive damage to the environment, including extinction of species, rising sea levels, mass death of coral reefs and decreased agricultural productivity globally.

At the UN climate conference in Poland in late 2018, countries discussed a rulebook to put into practice the measures of the 2015 Paris agreement, however no formal commitments were made to raise countries’ national targets according to scientific advice. Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement added more negativity to the discussions. The IPCC went on to warn that if we want to avoid 1.5C of warming, we have 12 years to bring global emissions under control and halve them.

Despite these negative truths about the environment, 2019 seems promising on this front. A series of events is set to engage governments and the public in discussions in order to find solutions. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, will run a summit for world leaders where they will face up to the dangers of climate change head on. Leaders will experience public pressure as coalitions of civil society groups seek to put their case around the summit and in the lead-up to it. The role of women, who are among the most vulnerable to climate change, will be highlighted, and the role of young people, who will have to live with the consequences of their elders’ mistakes in a warming world. French President  Emmanuel Macron will also run a One World Summit to urge businesses to invest in projects that decrease carbon emissions and change how they use energy.

Other positive signs for the environment are the fact that renewable energy technologies are becoming more affordable, with costs directly competing with fossil fuels. And the public is also taking action to help the environment, for example by taking on veganism or flexitarianism to reduce the damage inflicted on the planet.