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 & 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 library-gva@un.org. 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

COP26

COP 26

The latest round of global climate talks, COP26 (the 26th conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), took place from 31 October to 13 November 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Advance unedited versions of outcomes are available from the UNFCCC.

Learn more about COP26 at the dedicated United Nations page, at the UN Climate Change COP26 page, and also at the host country website.

COP 27 is scheduled to take place from 7-18 November 2022.

Visit the related UN Library & Archives Geneva Conference Primer page on the Environment to find more relevant resources.

What can you do?

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News from the United Nations

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.

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).

Help us improve this guide

We welcome your comments and suggestions concerning this resource guide. 

Please send any recommendations for other resources and RSS feeds that we might add.

UN Library Geneva Reference Desk
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