What to do?
Climate change is already showing impacts across the globe. We need to act now to prevent the more catastrophic effects and to enable our societies to cope with the inevitable changes.
What to do?
To limit global warming to an extent that keeps impacts manageable, it is clear that we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases as fast as possible. In 2015, all countries agreed in the Paris Agreement that we need to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century. However, we are still continuing to increase global emissions. The good news is – there is a lot we can do. But we must do it, and fast!
We need to mitigate and adapt to prevent catastrophic damage
The areas are closely interlinked. The more we manage to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the less we need to adapt to enable us to cope with the effects of climate change and the less residual damage from impacts we cannot adapt to, such as damage from cyclones and floods.
Mitigation – reducing climate change – involves reducing the flow of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, either by reducing sources of these gases (for example, the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat or transport) or enhancing the “sinks” that accumulate and store these gases (such as the oceans, forests and soil). The goal of mitigation is to avoid significant human interference with the climate system, and “stabilize greenhouse gas levels in a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner” (IPCC, AR4, page 4)
Not all effects of climate change can be adapted to. Climate change as it is occurring now already leads to more severe local weather events such as storms, floods and droughts. Changing weather patterns lead to less spectacular, but persistent changes that can render large stretches of land less habitable than before. It can be expected that these impacts will only get worse and more wide-spread as global mean temperatures continue to rise. In effect, continued and worsening climate change leads to different physical and economic losses in many parts of the world, demanding an effective common response. On an international level, first steps are being taken, bt the connection between historical responsibility for climate change and the need for compensation is still being debated.