U.N. climate change report sounds ‘code red for humanity’: Basics Explained

The Working Group I, a U.N. climate panel, contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report confirms that it is indisputable that human influence has warmed the climate system, raising global surface temperature; warning the world is already certain to face further climate disruptions for decades, if not centuries, to come. The deadly heat waves, gargantuan hurricanes and other weather extremes that are already happening will only become more severe. The average global temperature is likely to reach or cross the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold within 20 years. The report says emissions “unequivocally caused by human activities” have already pushed the average global temperature up 1.1C from its pre-industrial average – and would have raised it 0.5C further without the tempering effect of pollution in the atmosphere. At the last climate conference in Paris in 2015, 195 countries had adopted the agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius. LEARNING FROM HOME/ WITHOUT CLASSES/ BASICS ANTROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE is change caused by human activity. CLIMATE CHANGE:  Climate Change refers to any change in climate over time whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.             The term is commonly used interchangeably with global warming and green house effects and refers to increasing concentration of green house gases in the atmosphere that traps sun’s heat causes changes in weather pattern on a global scale.          Greenhouse gases allow sunlight (shortwave radiation) to pass through the atmosphere freely, where it is then partially absorbed by the surface of the Earth. Greenhouse gases are able to trap heat (longwave radiation) in the atmosphere, keeping the Earth’s surface warmer than it would be if they were not present. These gases are the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. Increases in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere enhances the greenhouse effect which is creating global warming and consequently climate change. So the more greenhouse gases you have in the atmosphere, the more heat stays on Earth. The principal forcing greenhouse gases are: Carbon dioxide (CO2) Methane (CH4) Nitrous oxide (N2O) Fluorinated gases Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. The term is frequently used interchangeably with the term climate change, though the latter refers to both human- and naturally produced warming and the effects it has on our planet.   UNFCCC The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 197 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. PARIS AGREEMENT The Paris Agreement  is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation and adaptation. The Paris agreement was signed in 2015 by 195 countries. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.               Unlike the Kyoto Protocol  which requires only developed countries to take mandatory actions, the Paris Agreement mandates all countries to take action to minimise the impact of climate change as per their voluntary commitments and individual capacity.
  1. It sets a global goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising 2°C (compared to temperatures of pre-Industrial Revolution) by the end of the century.
  2. It sets a nonbinding agreement for countries to reach peak greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible.”
  3. It asks richer countries to help out poorer countries: to give them capital to invest in green technologies, but also to help them brace for a changing world.
  4. The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
Adaptation Governments agreed to strengthen societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change;  provide continued and enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries. Loss and damage The agreement also recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.                                                                  


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