Climate change summary
Recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history – businesses can take real and positive action on this and the time to act is now.
What is climate change?
Climate change is the long-term change in average weather conditions, including temperature, precipitation and wind.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), which is comprised of the world’s leading scientific experts in the field of climate change, our climate is undergoing dramatic changes as the direct result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity. GHG’s are gases in the atmosphere that act like a glass roof around the earth, trapping in heat that would otherwise escape to space – this is commonly referred to as the “greenhouse effect”.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most significant and prevalent GHG released by human activities and is emitted mostly from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. The Kyoto Protocol the international agreement on emissions reductions, identified five other gases that participating counties pledged to reduce in order to limit anthropogenic climate change: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). A seventh gas, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), was later added to the list.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a further GHG resulting from human impact on the environment. Their production is being phased out under requirements of the Montreal Protocol.
To discuss how your organisation can reduce its impact on the environment and help prevent climate change, please contact us via UK email or telephone +44 (0)20 7833 6000 or US email or telephone 1-646-367-5800
What's the difference between global warming and climate change?
Global warming is the increases in the earth’s average temperature due to greenhouse gas build up in the atmosphere. Climate change is changes in the weather.
Global warming is specifically used to describe the current increase in the Earth's average temperature. Climate change refers not only to global changes in temperature but more broadly to changes in wind, precipitation and the length of seasons as well as the strength and frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts or floods. Climate change can occur naturally due to changes in sunlight, the growth of mountains and the movement of the continents across the earth over time. However, more notable is climate change which is accelerated through human activities.
The terms "global warming" and "climate change" are often used interchangeably in newspapers and television reporting, however one other noteworthy difference is global warming has a worldwide remit whereas climate change can be identified, and therefore impacted, on global, regional and local scales.
Looking to improve your business processes and reduce your environmental impact to help prevent climate change? To discuss your requirements in detail please contact us via UK email or telephone +44 (0)20 7833 6000 or US email or telephone 1-646-367-5800.
What’s the scientific requirement to deal with climate change?
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global climate is undergoing dramatic changes as the direct result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity. Climate change is already apparent as evidenced by higher temperatures, rising sea levels, increased ocean acidity and ice melt. According to the latest IPCC Synthesis Report, released November 2014, the need for urgency is intensifying, and the report states that “delaying additional mitigation to 2030 will substantially increase the technological, economic, social and institutional challenges associated with limiting the warming over the 21st century to below 2oC”.
The report also highlights that emissions from fossil fuels need to fall to almost zero by the end of the century. This comes at a time when carbon emissions mainly from burning coal, oil and gas are rising to record levels and are not yet falling. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said at the launch of the Synthesis Report: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message…. leaders must act. Time is not on our side…. decisive action will build a better and sustainable future, while inaction will be costly”.
The report continues to advise that continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.
What’s the status of international policy on climate change?
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005.
The Protocol runs out in 2020 and international climate negotiations are in process to reach a new agreement, with a significant meeting taking place in Paris in December 2015. In the absence of international unilateral agreements, other groups such as investors and business are looking beyond governments for solutions.
What’s the role of market-based solutions to climate change?
While we cannot reverse climate change, we can actively work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the impacts. Various solutions exist to facilitate this, ranging from halting deforestation to using renewable energy to Other approaches, such as green power from renewable energy sources, can also reduce the speed of climate change by limiting the reliance on fossil fuels for energy. For companies who are not able to rely on renewable energy to provide meet their requirements, geographically appropriate green power instruments are applied which allow businesses to claim the environmental benefits associated with green energy, while financially supporting the continual creation of renewable energy.
Our globally sourced instruments, from carbon credits to Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Guarantees of Origin (GOs) which are sourced through a global network of trusted suppliers, offer various locations, technology types and environmental attributes; allowing you to align your business and sustainability strategies with the most appropriate solution.