Climate Change

Are you concerned about climate change and its impact on our planet? Do you wonder why is climate change important or if there is anything you can do to make a difference?

This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over a least the last 2,000 years. For example, temperatures during the most recent decade (2011–2020) exceed those of the most recent multi-century warm period, around 6,500 years ago, the report indicates.  According to NASA, the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

Meanwhile, global mean sea level has risen faster since 1900, than over any preceding century in at least the last 3,000 years.  Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.

Evidence that CO2 emissions are the cause of global warming is very robust. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity derive mainly from combustion of fossil fuels, with additional significant contributions from industrial processes, agriculture, and land use change. Changes in levels of black carbon particulates, snow albedo, and atmospheric pollutants have small additional impacts on global warming.

An international research team including scientists from ETH Zurich has shown that almost all the world’s glaciers are becoming thinner and losing mass’ and that these changes are picking up pace. Between 2000 and 2019, the world’s glaciers lost a total of 267 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of ice per year on average — an amount that could have submerged the entire surface area of Switzerland under six metres of water every year.  Among the fastest melting glaciers are those in Alaska, Iceland and the Alps. The situation is also having a profound effect on mountain glaciers in the Pamir mountains, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas.

The IPC 2021 document shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming between 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of heating.  In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years, and concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide were higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

The global response to the consequences of climate change is spearheaded by the secretariat behind the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact. It aims to turn the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support, stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.” 

The Secretariat’s ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment) wants to empower all members of society to engage in climate action, through education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation on these issues. “Everyone, including and perhaps especially the young, must understand and participate in the transition to a low-emission, climate-resilient world. Sustainable lifestyles, sustainable patterns of consumption and production, are fundamental to reducing greenhouse emissions and enhancing resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change,” states UNFCCC.

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