What Is Climate Change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest levels in 2 million years

And emissions continue to rise. As a result, the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. The last decade (2011-2020) was the warmest on record.

Climate change can affect our health, ability to grow food, housing, safety and work. Some of us are already more vulnerable to climate impacts, such as people living in small island nations and other developing countries.

People are experiencing climate change in diverse ways

Every increase in global warming matters

In a series of UN reports, thousands of scientists and government reviewers agreed that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C would help us avoid the worst climate impacts and maintain a livable climate.

We face a huge challenge but already know many solutions

Three broad categories of action are: cutting emissions, adapting to climate impacts and financing required adjustments

We can pay the bill now, or pay dearly in the future

Climate action requires significant financial investments by governments and businesses. But climate inaction is vastly more expensive. One critical step is for industrialized countries to fulfil their commitment to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries so they can adapt and move towards greener economies.

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