The New Year has opened with plenty of reminders of the climate crisis that has engulfed the world over recent years.

In Australia, there have been the horrendous fires, burning out of control, costing lives. Floods in other parts of the world. News that the polar ice caps are melting more quickly than predicted.

Locally, on a minor scale, we have had a preview of what is coming with the overflow of the River Roding around the Wanstead area. This was thankfully only a short-lived crisis, absorbed by the surrounding natural infrastructure, but it showed briefly the devastation that can be caused without preventative measures being taken.

The world is in an environmental crisis but still it would seem many people, including politicians, remain in some state of collective denial.

The attitude of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison provides an excellent example, defending the country's policy of mining coal while the ravages of climate change engulf his country.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has been a fantastic advocate for seriously addressing the climate crisis. She has accused world leaders of destroying her future and forcing her and others to spend time protesting to try to get the policies changed.

Thunberg wants to go back to school but cannot because the politicians it seems wilfully refuse to hear her message. Platforms are being provided for her to address decision makers but they are not really listening.

Some tell her to return to school. She wants to but what will she return for? What will be the future if the environment is destroyed?

Despite the dire warnings of climate catastrophe over recent years, including the International Panel on Climate Change’s recent warning that there were 12 years to really take the measures needed to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, the world continues to warm.

Emissions have increased since the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015. The world is heading toward well over three degrees of warming, rather than staying below 1.5 degrees.

The earth is already seeing the human and financial costs of failing to address climate change. The disasters, the migrations of refugees driven from their homelands and the costs of trying to stop an onrushing crisis.

Back in 2006, Sir Nicholas Stern wrote a report for the British government saying that it was not too late to act, but failure to do so would cost the world much more dearly in the long term. His words were ignored, now we are beginning to see the consequences.

So moving into the New Year, everyone needs to up the effort to get politicians and decision makers to act seriously on the climate crisis. Policy needs to shift and there must be financial backing for the changes required. In too many instances environmental issues are still regarded as important but back burner issues that will be dealt with when the money is available. As Sir Nicholas pointed out we don’t have that luxury – there needs to be action and it needs to be now.