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Climate Change


Welcome to the research guide on Climate Change produced by the United Nations Library & Archives 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 Thank you for your feedback!

Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and now, more than ever, we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns threatening food production, to rising sea levels increasing risks of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action now, adapting to these impacts in future will be more difficult and costly.United in Science 2020, WMO, September 2020

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. In 2018, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, the IPCC issued the Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C.      

Read more about Climate Change and the United Nations

Recent developments

High-level Roundtable on Climate Action

Convened by the UN Secretary-General to showcase high-impact climate change solutions, in line with his six climate-positive actions to recover better together, the event will focus efforts to limit global warming to 1.5° C and ensure that people and planet are protected. The event looks towards the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement (12 December 2020), when governments are expected to present ambitious and quality climate plans (NDCs and Long-Term Strategies), all the way to COP26 in November 2021.

COP 26

The COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference has been postponed until 2021, and will take place from 1 to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow. More at the host country website.

From 1 to 10 June 2020, June Momentum for Climate Change was conducted under the guidance of the chairs of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and with the support of the UNFCCC secretariat. The online events offered an opportunity for Parties and stakeholders to showcase how climate action is progressing under the special circumstances the world is currently facing.

World Environment Day - 5 June 2020

This year's World Environment Day, under the them Time for Nature, encouraged people around the world to consider that the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. To care for ourselves, we must care for nature and build back better for people and the planet.

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, took 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 & Archives Geneva Events

#UNGenevaReads - The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis

2 October 2020, 16:00-17:00 Geneva time

Live online conversation open to the public with Christiana Figueres, former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, senior political strategist for the Paris Agreement, as they discuss their 2020 book. You can find out more information at the event page and watch the event through this link

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.


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.

Select UN resources for youth on climate change

Climate is changing (activity book)

Part of a series of books by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to familiarize youth with FAO's work and how they can take action to become the Zero Hunger Generation. See HERE for more information and different language versions.

Climate Change Education - UNESCO Associated Schools 4 Climate

The UNESCO Associated School network (ASPnet) as part of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), has piloted a whole-institution approach to ESD with a focus on climate change. Find out more, and get access to publications such as Getting Climate-Ready: A Guide for Schools on Climate Action and a Resources List (both publications available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic).

Related Research Guides

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