2. How has the international community responded?
A crucial transition point was reached in December 2015 when 195 countries signed a global agreement to tackle climate change.
This took place at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.
The ‘Paris agreement’, as it is commonly called, lays out the foundations and a high-level framework for:
Tackling greenhouse gases emissions in order to limit global temperature increase to below 2°C (which is considered by climate scientists the threshold for averting catastrophic climate change)
Addressing adaptation to climate change
Mobilising the enabling finance to achieve the above
Further details about the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement came into effect on 4 November 2016 after it was ratified by more than 55 countries, which together contribute approximately 55% of global emissions.
Contrary to most global agreements it has a ‘bottom-up’ structure. This means that countries submit their own climate change targets (called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – INDCs) to combat climate change as opposed to following an agreed ‘top-down’ standard or goal.
As of October 2016, 163 INDCs have been submitted, representing 190 countries and 98.9% of global emissions. The World Resources Institute, has developed an on-line climate data explorer, where all the INDCs are summarised, and which can be found here:
Key resources available in the Topic Library include:
A summary of key points from the Paris Agreement
A video by climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA which explains how small-scale environmental events help us understand the bigger picture of climate change