Samuel Helsen / PhD researcher

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven / Climatology

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

We already see the impacts of climate change nowadays! The increasing worldwide number of extreme weather events with considerable damage clearly illustrate that. As a climate scientist, I know what the consequences of climate change can be. If we don’t act now to keep the warming under 1.5 degrees, the consequences will only be more devastating. Recently, we saw drastic changes over Antarctica of which I am concerned. Not only the West-Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass, but also the eastern part . If we cannot limit the warming, a tipping point can be reached for the Antarctic at which irreversible ice losses may occur, contributing to sea level rise in the coming centuries/millennia.

  • Since I started working at KU Leuven as a PhD, I moved from a rural area far from Leuven to a more urbanized area closer to Leuven. So I now travel every day to my work by train and by bike. Our apartment is situated close to the train station so I can reach the station by foot. Moreover, our apartment is also situated very close to the city center where I live. In this way, we can easily go to the center by foot or by bike.
  • If we go to conferences, we follow the sustainability guidelines provided by the KU Leuven. This means that for conferences in Europe (travel time less than a day) we go by train. If, and only if, we go overseas, we compensate our flight emissions (per ton emitted CO2) by paying for the emission to a sustainable fund. We only go overseas when it is necessary and when we have interesting results to present.
  • Recently I also started lowering my red meat consumption. We now eat more chicken and turkey/pork instead of beef.
  • We also avoid plastic and other waste.
    To my opinion, both at European level as well as on the Belgian national level, governments should take into account the mitigation targets that were imposed by the Paris agreement. They should implement this in a ‘climate law’ that prescribes the ambitions and contains concrete rules, especially for those sectors that have the largest share in emissions. So far, such law is missing in Belgium. Moreover, technological innovation should be encouraged, while also optimally employing already existing technologies. Next to that, we also have to use our natural buffers as much as possible, by providing more space to forests.