The global climate is changing faster than had previously been assumed. This is not only resulting in different local weather, but is changing the vegetation of entire regions and triggering major natural disasters.
Anthropogenic climate change affects all of us, but the impacts are most serious for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Sea levels are rising and we are seeing more and more extreme weather events. Droughts are destroying more and more harvests, while flooding and storms are laying waste to vast tracts of land elsewhere. This is caused by excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, especially during power generation, manufacturing, transport and in road traffic. The commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement are not yet being adequately implemented.
What must be done?
The Paris Agreement on climate change provides for keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degree Celsius in relation to pre-industrial times. It is the industrialised countries that are called on to act here, since they emit the vast majority of greenhouse gases. These emissions must immediately be significantly reduced. To this end, industry must shift to renewable energies and, like consumers, reduce their energy and fuel consumption. National policies must impose directives – and enforce them. But the people too must adapt to climate change and take precautionary action. Dykes can provide protection against flooding, and farmers can sow varieties better suited to the changed climatic conditions. Developing countries in particular need support to enable them to take precautions and develop their economies along climate-neutral lines.
Facts and figures
- Since 1990 global emissions of CO2 have risen by almost 50 per cent.
- If the temperature rises by 1° Celsius, worldwide cereal harvests drop by 5 per cent. Between 1981 and 2002 this resulted in annual decline of 40 mega tonnes in cereal harvests.
- Sea levels rose by 19 centimetres between 1901 and 2010. It is estimated that levels will rise by up to 63 centimetres by 2100.