The United Nations working to reduce the impacts of climate change
Climate change is a long-term alteration in the earth’s climate and weather patterns, and has become the most pressing issue facing the world today.
It took nearly a century of research and data to convince the vast majority of the scientific community that human activity could alter the climate of our entire planet but, by the late 1950s, CO2 readings in the atmosphere started to offer some of the first data to corroborate the existence of global warming.
The abundance of data we hold today, along with climate modelling, shows not only that global warming is real, but that without action its impact presents a host of serious consequences.
In 1992, the United Nations held the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, an event that kickstarted an international programme to begin the war on Climate Change.
The Earth Summit also facilitated the establishment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 and have become a cornerstone of governmental and institutional strategies aimed at tackling inequality and sustainability across the globe.
This event established an international environment treaty “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (UNFCCC), committing signatories to work towards stabilising the world's greenhouse gas emissions. One outcome was the creation of the annual Conference of the Parties (COP events) to review progress and agree additional actions.
In 1997, the COP3 event saw the creation of the “Kyoto protocol” – introducing an agreement into the UNFCCC to reduce the onset of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere – applied to the six specific greenhouse gases: Carbon Dioxide | Methane | Nitrous Oxide | Hydrofluorocarbons | Perfluorocarbons and | Sulphur hexafluoride.
In 2015, the COP 21 created the “Paris agreement”, signed by all of the world’s leaders committing each country to determine, plan, and regularly report on its contribution to mitigate global warming and requiring each target to go beyond previously set targets.
This new awareness and the acceptance of the impact of climate change has ignited a period of climate activism across the globe, with citizens looking to their political leaders to provide tangible leadership and action on the agenda, leading to a number of countries, cities and institutions declaring a “Climate Emergency” as a public statement that confirms the action plan they intend to take.
The actions required to address the challenges require all stakeholders in the process to embrace change, accept innovation and expect some inconvenience through the process. We are now unwinding over a century of established thinking.
However, the outcomes of no action will be substantially more costly and far more disruptive than any level of inconvenience created by acting now.