Research Guides United Nations Office at Geneva Library

Climate Change

What is CLIMATE CHANGE?

Welcome to the research guide on Climate Change produced by the United Nations Library Geneva.
We will continue to update this guide to reflect the wealth of climate change resources and the latest developments in the international response. Please check back often to see the new resources added. If you have suggestions for this guide, please share them with us at library-gva@un.org. Thank you for your feedback!

Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.Graphic from United in Science report, WMO, September 2019

Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.

Science has established that the concentration of GHGs in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on Earth; the concentration has been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the time of the Industrial Revolution; and the most abundant GHG, accounting for about two-thirds of GHGs, carbon dioxide (CO2), is largely the product of burning fossil fuels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme to provide an objective source of scientific information. In 2013 the IPCC provided more clarity about the role of human activities in climate change when it released its Fifth Assessment Report. It is categorical in its conclusion: climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.       

Read more about Climate Change and the United Nations

Recent developments

COP 25

The Conference of the Parties (COP), COP25, under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and with logistical support from the Government of Spain, is taking place in Madrid, Spain from 2 to 13 December 2019. You can find out more about the COP here, and visit the Chile presidency website here.

 

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released their annual Emissions Gap Report on 26 November 2019. The report compares global greenhouse trajectories against levels consistent with achieving global climate goals, and highlights the best ways to close the gap (see HERE for 10 key things about the report). The 2019 report warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

 

Complaint presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for failure to act on climate change

The failure of governments to act on the climate crisis constitutes a violation of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to a landmark complaint presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child by 16 youth on 23 September 2019. See more info at Children vs Climate Crisis.

 

United Nations Climate Action Summit

On 23 September 2019 the Secretary-General of the United Nations hosted the Climate Action Summit in New York with the objective of boosting ambition and rapidly accelerating action to implement the Paris Agreement.
See the agenda here.
See press materials here.
Initiatives from the Summit are registered on the Global Climate Action portal, an online platform where actors from around the globe can display their commitments to act on climate change.

Watch the Summit on UN Web TV.

 

Youth Climate Summit

Young leaders from around the world convened on Saturday, 21 September 2019 to showcase climate solutions and engage with global leaders on the defining issue of our time. See the Programme here. See the UN Secretary-General's remarks here. See the Press Release here.

Related UN Library Geneva Events

Geneva premiere: Interdependence
13 November 2019

The United Nations Geneva, Art for the World, and the Graduate Institute Geneva, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Iceland and the Permanent Mission of Italy to UN Geneva, hosted the Geneva Premiere of Interdependence, 11 short films about climate change by 11 international filmmakers. With introductory remarks by Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Geneva, and Christian Frutiger, Ambassador, Head of Global Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the film was followed by an exchange with Adelina von Fürstenberg, President a.i, Art For the World, Producer of Interdependence, Swiss filmmaker Bettina Oberli, and Daniel Maselli, Senior Policy Advisor, SDC.

Storytelling@TheLibrary with Paul Rose
26 September 2019

Climate change is becoming the most important systemic risk humankind and the planet will face in the near future. The socio-economic and political implications are already apparent and a race is on, in which climate change appears to move faster than the discussion about the solutions. Paul Rose was the special guest of Story Telling at the Library to talk about his life of engagement for the planet and the global challenges related to biodiversity and sustainability. You can access the podcast of the event here.

What can you do?

Climate Action in Geneva

Geneva Environment Network

Led by the UN Environment Programme, with support from the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment, the Geneva Environment Network is a cooperative partnership of over 75 environment and sustainable development organizations based in the Geneva region  whose secretariat organizes and hosts meetings on the environment and sustainable development, and promotes public awareness of environmental issues. You can see upcoming events in the region on their Events page.

SDG Lab

This initiative focuses on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, identifying strategic opportunities to maximize the added-value of International Geneva (United Nations and intergovernmental organizations, Member States, civil society and NGOs, academia and the private sector). Led by UN Geneva, the Lab is supported by the Governments of Switzerland, China and Nigeria, the University of Geneva, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). See their Toolkit for ideas and resources to help you get involved.

Graduate Institute Geneva SDG Portal

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva has made their SDG-related activities available through this online portal, searchable by goal. You can see their research and activity on SDG 13 - Climate Action here.

Training resources - Online courses

One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC: e-Learn)

The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn) is a joint initiative of more than 30 multilateral organizations helping countries to achieve climate change action both through general climate literacy and applied skills development. UN CC:Learn provides strategic advice and quality learning resources to help people, governments and businesses to understand, adapt, and build resilience to climate change. UN CC:Learn is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

SDG Academy

The SDG Academy creates and curates free massive open online courses and educational materials on sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Academy is a program of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative for the United Nations supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. You can find courses on climate action, visit the SDG Academy Library and search "SDG 13" for videos on Climate Action, and more.

Open Access Resources

Discover open access materials about climate change available through the UN Library Geneva catalogue Global Search!

And discover more open access electronic resources.

News from the United Nations

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