Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme.
Although greenhouse gas emissions are projected to drop about 6 per cent in 2020 due to travel bans and economic slowdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this improvement is only temporary. Climate change is not on pause. Once the global economy begins to recover from the pandemic, emissions are expected to return to higher levels.
Saving lives and livelihoods requires urgent action to address both the pandemic and the climate emergency.
The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, through appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework.
As countries move toward rebuilding their economies after COVID-19, recovery plans can shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, safe and more resilient. The current crisis is an opportunity for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.
The UN Secretary-General has proposed six climate-positive actions for governments to take once they go about building back their economies and societies:
Green transition: Investments must accelerate the decarbonization of all aspects of our economy.
Green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth
Green economy: making societies and people more resilient through a transition that is fair to all and leaves no one behind.
Invest in sustainable solutions: fossil fuel subsidies must end and polluters must pay for their pollution.
Confront all climate risks
Cooperation – no country can succeed alone.
To address the climate emergency, post-pandemic recovery plans need to trigger long-term systemic shifts that will change the trajectory of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
Governments around the world have spent considerable time and effort in recent years to develop plans to chart a safer and more sustainable future for their citizens. Taking these on board now as part of recovery planning can help the world build back better from the current crisis.
Climate Action Summit 2019
With global emissions are reaching record levels and showing no sign of peaking, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all leaders to come to New York on 23 September 2019 for the Climate Action Summit with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in their Climate Report 2018. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.
As of April 2018, 175 parties had ratified the Paris Agreement and 168 parties had communicated their first nationally determined contributions to the UN framework convention on Climate Change Secretariat.
As of April 2018, 10 developing countries had successfully completed and submitted their first iteration of their national adaptation plans for responding to climate change.
Developed country parties continue to make progress towards the goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020 for mitigation actions.
Thanks to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we know:
From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. To put this into perspective, for each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatons per year between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.
Oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and sea level has risen.From 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm as oceans expanded due to warming and ice melted. The Arctic’s sea ice extent has shrunk in every successive decade since 1979, with 1.07 million km² of ice loss every decade
Given current concentrations and on-going emissions of greenhouse gases, it is likely that by the end of this century, the increase in global temperature will exceed 1.5°C compared to 1850 to 1900 for all but one scenario. The world’s oceans will warm and ice melt will continue. Average sea level rise is predicted as 24 – 30cm by 2065 and 40-63cm by 2100. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions are stopped
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990
Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades
It is still possible, using a wide array of technological measures and changes in behavior, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
Major institutional and technological change will give a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold
13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
13.A Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
13.B Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities
*Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change.
The historic Paris Agreement provides an opportunity for countries to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.
The UN continues to encourage all stakeholders to take action toward reducing the impacts of climate change.
The Madrid Climate Change Conference – COP25 – brought the world together to consider ways to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Taking place from 2 to 16 December in Madrid, the Conference came at a time when new data shows the climate emergency is getting worse every day, and is impacting people’s lives everywhere, whether from extreme heat, air pollution, wildfires, intensified flooding or droughts. Read our blogs from the Conference here.
At the end of COP24, countries stressed “the urgency of enhanced ambition in order to ensure the highest possible mitigation and adaptation efforts by all Parties,” and agreed on a set of guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The 2017 UN Climate Conference took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-18 November. Leaders of national governments, cities, states, business, investors, NGOs and civil society gathered to speed up climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC took place in Marrakesh, Morocco. During COP 22, parties began preparations for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, and to encourage actions to implement the agreement that will address climate change.
High-Level Event Towards Entry into Force: 21 September, 2016
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a special “High-Level Event on Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change” on 21 September at the UN Headquarters in New York, to provide an opportunity to other countries to publicly commit to joining the Paris Agreement before the end of 2016.
To keep the global spotlight focused on climate change and build on the strong political momentum from Paris, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited representatives of all countries to sign the Paris Agreement on climate changeat a special Ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters on 22 April.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.
The Paris Agreement on climate change officially entered into force on 4 November 2016, after 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the UN Secretary-General.
As of 28 September 2017, 166 countries have joined the Paris Agreement.
The real action is happening at the country level, or even at the city or local level. It is there that governments and businesses are working to reduce their carbon emissions and to build climate resilience. The movement toward greater action is gaining momentum. At the international level, there is still the need to continue the maintain the momentum toward universal ratification of the agreement, as well as the adoption of rules to guide the implementation of the Agreement.
The agreement provides a pathway forward to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, maybe even 1.5. The agreement provides a mechanism to increase the level of ambition.
The Paris Agreement is an ambitious, dynamic and universal agreement. It covers all countries and all emissions, and is designed to last. This is a monumental agreement. It solidifies international cooperation for climate change. It provides a way forward.
The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal to markets that now is the time to invest in the low emission economy. It contains a transparency framework to build mutual trust and confidence.
It will serve as an important tool in mobilizing finance technological support and capacity building for developing countries. And it will also help to scale up global efforts to address and minimize loss and damage from climate change.
Paris is a beginning—we now have to implement the Agreement. But we have taken a giant step forward.
The agreement requires all countries to take action, while recognizing their differing situations and circumstances. Under the Agreement, countries are responsible for taking action on both mitigation and adaptation.
Countries officially submitted their own nationally determined climate actions. They have an obligation to implement these plans, and if they do, it will bend the curve downward in the projected global temperature rise.
The agreement not only formalizes the process of developing national plans, but also it provides a binding requirement to assess and review progress on these plans. This mechanism will require countries to continuously upgrade their commitments and ensure that there will be no backtracking.
This agreement is a clarion call from governments that they are ready for implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Countries have every reason to comply with the terms of the Agreement. It is in their interest to implement the agreement, not only in terms of achieving the benefits of taking climate action, but also to show global solidarity.
There is no benefit to flouting the Agreement. Any short-term time gain will be short-lived. It will undoubtedly be overshadowed by negative reactions, by other countries, financial markets, and most important, by their citizens.
Yes. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is reflected in this Agreement. There is clearly a duty on all parties to take climate action, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in the light of different national circumstances.
The Paris Agreement helps us to avoid locking in a level of ambition that would make the well below 2 degrees goal improbable. In 2018 countries will have an opportunity to review their collective effort against the global goals prior to formally submitting their national contributions to the new agreement. This exercise will be repeated every five years.
We have an agreement and we have a chance now to reach our goal. We couldn’t say that without an agreement. The Paris Agreement will put us on a pathway to achieve the 2 degree goal or less. We did not expect to leave Paris with commitments to reach that goal, but rather, with a process that will get us there. And that is what the Agreement provides.
A strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, build stronger economies and safer, healthier, and more liveable societies everywhere. There are 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that directly involve taking action on climate change– in addition to climate change having its own goal.
The Paris Conference featured thousands of climate action announcements that demonstrated how civil society and the private sector are moving forward to address climate change.
The world has warmed before, but never this quickly, and it is due in large part to human activities. For instance, the changes in the Arctic between just six years ago and now are shocking. People in most parts of the world are seeing and feeling the impacts
We can limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees if we take action now. We need all countries and all sectors of society to act now—it is in the interests of everyone.
It is doable. Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay. We can promote economic growth, eradicate extreme poverty, and improve people’s health and well-being by acting today.
Building on the climate action momentum, the Secretary-General will launch his Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change on 27 July to amplify youth voices and to engage young people in an open and transparent dialogue as the UN gears up to raise ambition and accelerate action to address the climate crisis.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres today addressed a forum of leaders from Small Island Developing State saying that even as the world remains focused on confronting the COVID-19 pandemic – the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War, we must not lose focus on climate change.