Climate Action

Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit the magnitude or rate of global warming and its related effects. This generally involves reductions in human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Fossil fuels account for about 70% of GHG emissions. The main challenge is their substitution with low-carbon energy sources. Due to massive price drops, wind power and solar photovoltaics (PV) are increasingly out-competing oil, gas and coal but require energy storage and extended electrical grids. Mitigation may also be achieved by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks, for example through reforestation. Other examples of mitigation include reducing energy demand by increasing energy efficiency and removing carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere. Climate engineering is often controversial but might have to be used in addition to reducing GHG emissions.

Almost all countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of GHGs at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. In 2010, Parties to the UNFCCC agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level. With the Paris Agreement of 2015 this was confirmed.

With the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, the International Panel on Climate Change has emphasized the benefits of keeping global warming below this level, suggesting a global collective effort that may be guided by the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Emissions pathways with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure including transport and buildings, and industrial systems.

The current trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions does not appear to be consistent with limiting global warming to below 1.5 or 2 °C. However globally the benefits of keeping warming under 2 °C exceed the costs.


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