Climate change refers to the long-term changes in the Earth’s climate that are warming the atmosphere, ocean and land. Climate change is affecting the balance of ecosystems that support life and biodiversity and impacting health. It also causes more extreme weather events, such as more intense and/or frequent hurricanes, floods, heat waves, wild fires, droughts, and leads to sea level rise and coastal erosion as a result of ocean warming, melting of glaciers, and loss of ice sheets.
Climate change is primarily caused by the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to human activities. The most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), followed by methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and others. These gases trap heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping back into space and leading to a warming effect known as the greenhouse effect.
Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), deforestation, industrial processes, and agricultural practices have substantially increased the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This enhanced greenhouse effect is causing the Earth’s average temperature to rise, leading to various adverse impacts on ecosystems, weather patterns, and human societies.
Addressing climate change requires global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, promote sustainable land use practices, and enhance resilience to climate impacts. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement are international efforts aimed at mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recommended to reduce emissions globally by 45% before 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Can individuals reduce their emissions and help reverse climate change?
No one country, leader, company, or individual can solve climate change alone –however we can all start to make a positive impact by taking individual actions and supporting broader efforts. While the challenge of climate change requires collective action at a global scale, every individual’s contribution matters. Here are some ways you can help:
Remember, individual actions, when combined with collective efforts, can lead to meaningful change. By taking steps to reduce your own impact and inspiring others to do the same, you contribute to the broader movement toward reversing climate change.