Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to surpass 3 degrees centigrade this century. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.
Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts. Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.
To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris, which went into force in November of 2016. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees centigrade. As of April 2018, 175 parties had ratified the Paris Agreement and 10 developing countries had submitted their first iteration of their national adaptation plans for responding to climate change.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the Climate Action Summit, September 2019
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 a new assessment. 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. Click here to read the report.
For more UN climate reports, click here.
- 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.
Paris Agreement – Frequently Asked Questions
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 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 is ambitious and it provides all the tools we need to address climate change, for reducing emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The proof will be in the implementation, by governments, businesses and civil society.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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To signal the United Nations’ continued support for climate action, the Organization will participate in Earth Hour, a global lights-off event coordinated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other volunteer organizations, on Saturday, 30 March from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.
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