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Climate change

What is climate change? 

It is defined as the variation in the state of the terrestrial climate system, which is made up of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere, and the biosphere. It lasts for sufficiently long periods of time until a new equilibrium is reached.

What are the consequences of climate change? 

Climate change affects all regions of the world in different ways. For example, the polar ice caps are melting, and the sea level is rising. In some areas, extreme weather events and floods are becoming more frequent; there are heat waves and droughts in others. 

What are the causes of climate change? 

Humankind is responsible for climate change, and our greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. The most infamous gas is CO2, which causes 63% of global warming. However, others are methane or nitrous oxide. Gases accumulate in the atmosphere (today, there’s more than 40% accumulated gas) and heat the Earth to excessive levels. This has severe consequences, according to information from the European Parliament and the World Meteorological Organization.

The leading causes of climate change and global warming are the following: 

1. Transportation

In Spain, some 40% of emissions come from cars, trucks, vans, and buses, as well as from water or air vessels.

2. Buildings that need energy renovation

36% of the gases emitted in Europe are caused by buildings that need energy renovation; such as:

  • Insulation: proper thermal insulation reduces energy consumption by 50%.
  • Water-tightness: preventing air leaks or sealing gaps between windows and walls can reduce consumption between 30% and 50%.
  • Ventilation: efficient ventilation reduces heat demand by 90%.

3. Industry

Industries like chemicals and oil are two of the leading causes of climate change, but they’re not the only ones. The textile industry, for example, is one of the most polluting ones, along with PVC, chlorine, and metallurgy, as they generate a large amount of waste, some of which is highly toxic.

4. Excessive waste generation

Each person living in Europe generates more than one and a half kilograms of garbage a day. 60% of this trash consists of plastic containers and bags. This requires good waste management by administrations, but especially an individual effort to reduce waste through small, everyday steps.

5. Agriculture and livestock

The current food system is unsustainable and incompatible with caring for the environment. Agriculture and livestock are among the leading causes of climate change and global warming. In fact, if the European population consumed half the meat it currently does, we could reduce greenhouse emissions by 25% to 40%.

6. Wasting energy

Product of inefficient systems or carelessness.

7. Deforestation

Deforestation not only has a direct impact on its environment: its effect ripples out to the entire planet. Trees can transform CO2 into oxygen – precisely the gas we produce the most.

What’s the answer to climate change?

Since we’ve reached this point, what can we do to fight climate change? Many small steps can have a big impact. Today, governments, companies, and citizens worldwide are striving to reduce their negative impact on the planet through environmental policies and small lifestyle changes.

These are three simple steps to start being more eco-friendly:

  1. Separate your waste so it can be reused or recycled.
  2. Opt for local, sustainable products that you can buy in bulk.
  3. Always take cloth bags and a water bottle with you to reduce the production of single-use containers.

What is Spain’s situation regarding climate change?

According to Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), the values shown in recent years for the country have been alarming. Rain levels for the water year have fallen by an average of 15%, with the warmest temperatures of the entire 21st century on record, leading to a drought.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. In Spain, there are companies like Ferrovial that have a high sense of environmental responsibility and are part of the Paris Agreement – the first universal agreement for facing climate change. They’re working on solutions that respond to challenges like climate change, managing water footprints, the energy crisis, and the loss of biodiversity, all to create long-term value.

Ferrovial is aware of its responsibility in this process, and it is deeply committed to two fundamental objectives:

  1. Responsibly managing environmental impacts that occur in its activities from a preventive angle. This includes carrying out actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Using their abilities and knowledge in developing infrastructure for a low-emission economy.

Interesting facts about climate change

  • Since 20th-century industrialization, our planet’s temperature has increased by 0.6°C, and the sea level has risen by 10 to 12 centimeters. 
  • The current food system is unfair and unsustainable: 800 million people suffer from hunger worldwide, while 2 billion people are overweight.
  • According to the Ministry of Environment, 74% of Spanish soil is in the process of desertification.

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