What is climate change?
Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world.
The United Nations General Secretary, António Guterres told world leaders in November 2022 at the opening of the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt:
We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing … And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.
We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.
'Climate change' refers to changes in the earth's climate that are caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases cause the earth to heat up. This affects global weather patterns, the frequency of extreme weather events and the melting of polar and glacial ice, which contributes to rising sea levels.
Healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity are fundamental to life on our planet. Even small changes in average temperatures can have a significant effect upon ecosystems.
Human activities contribute to increasing levels of greenhouse gases. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas releases CO2 into the atmosphere.
There is almost 40% more CO2 in the atmosphere now than there was before the industrial revolution. This is the highest level reached in the last 800,000 years.
Climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.