Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions
- New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 2: The evolution of global climate governance
There is a solid scientific basis for international action to mitigate the causes and impacts of climate change. As the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated, we know with more than 95 per cent certainty that human activities contribute to an increase in the global average temperature. Emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), provide a major contribution to the warming trend and it is evident that greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing. CO2 concentrations have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial timesto over 400 ppm in 2013. CO2 is primarily emitted through the use of fossil fuels, although land-use changes (such as deforestation) also play an important role. Climate science also provides mounting evidence of the impacts of climatic changes. The increasing temperatures are expected to lead to impacts across the globe, some of which will be and are being felt worldwide (e.g., sea level rise) whereas others (e.g., extreme weather events) will vary for different regions. How climate impacts will be felt by humans and ecosystems depends to a large extent on their climate vulnerability and their ability to adapt to climate change. It is clear that many climate impacts are very unevenly distributed, and that the least developed countries are at the same time the most vulnerable and have the lowest capacity to adapt.
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