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Climate Change


What is Climate Change?

Climate is the set of long-term atmospheric conditions that has always been subject to being the consequence of different natural phenomena (volcanic eruptions, solar radiation, etc.). However, climate change has been occurring at an unprecedented rate for several decades. Scientific evidence points to human action as responsible for this acceleration, as a result of the generation of greenhouse gases (GHG) that accumulate in the atmosphere and retain heat, increasing what is known as the greenhouse effect, and contributing to an increase in global temperatures. This alteration of anthropogenic origin is what is known as "climate change". This term is often replaced by "global warming", as this is the main way in which humans are affecting the climate.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as: "Changes in climate directly or indirectly attributable to human activity that alter the composition of the global atmosphere and that are superimposed on natural variability observable over equivalent time periods."

Greenhouse gases

The term "greenhouse effect" refers to the retention of the Suns heat on the Earth by a layer of gases in the atmosphere. Without them life as we know it would not be possible, as the planet would be too cold (it would be about 30ºC lower). Most greenhouse gases are naturally occurring and are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3). However, industrialization has caused the emission and concentration of these gases to increase exponentially since the beginning of the last century, when, without human action, nature was responsible for balancing emissions. By increasing these gases, we are changing the balance (called "radiative forcing "4 ) between the amount of energy entering the atmosphere and leaving it, so that the amount of infrared radiation accumulated by the earth is increasing. This leads to an increase in the temperature of the entire planet.


Human influence on the climate system is clear.

The anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) that accumulate in the atmosphere and retain heat is increasing what is known as the "greenhouse effect" and contributing to a rise in global temperatures with an effect that can last for many millennia before natural processes remove them from the atmosphere.

Climate change is a reality.

  • Scientific evidence shows that its effects are occurring at an unprecedented rate and with obvious consequences:
    Global temperatures have been rising steadily since 1880, with 19 of the 20 warmest years since records began in 2001.
  • The consequences of this global warming are being seen in other variables: The ocean is breaking warming records contributing to the observed reduction in ocean oxygen inventory, melting of land masses, sea ice and glaciers is accelerating, mean sea level has reached its highest value since high-precision satellite records have been available.
  • There is also a link between global warming and extreme weather events (heat waves, cyclones, etc.). Despite the complexity of their study, since they are rare/exceptional, there is a general consensus that changes in their frequency or intensity are increasing in many regions because of global climate change.

Climate change, and particularly extreme events, greatly affect human well-being and all sectors of activity.

 It influences directly and indirectly, through its impacts on natural and socio-economic systems:

  • It is among the top three direct drivers of biodiversity loss, thereby threatening the numerous goods and services it provides.
  • It has been defined as the greatest health challenge of the 21st century by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, threatening every aspect of the society we live in.
  • It has important implications for the quality of key natural resources in the food supply, as crops and livestock have physiological limits including those related to temperature. According to WMO (World Meteorological Organization) (2020), climate variability and extreme weather events are among the main drivers of the recent increase in global hunger.
  • Climate change is also one of the greatest threats to economic stability: natural disasters cause significant economic losses.

There is some change in the climate that is inevitable, and that will require adaptive action.

Mitigation action is key: every tenth of a temperature increase avoided is important.

Global emission mitigation efforts will need to be accompanied by adaptation actions.

Climate action will have a profound impact on the global climate.



The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that sets out measures for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the Paris Agreement, 195 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. At the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, December 2015, and after 20 years of negotiations, 195 countries agreed to limit global warming by two degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era. How? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

Here are the nine most important key points of the Paris Agreement:


To keep the global temperature increase to well below 2 0C compared to the pre-industrial era and to continue efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C.

Emission reductions

Reach peak emissions as soon as possible and thereafter rapidly reduce emissions to achieve carbon neutrality (zero net emissions).

Country commitments

All 195 countries report their national commitments to combat climate change. They come into force in 2020 and are reviewed every five years with the idea of increasing ambition.


Transparency framework common to all countries that includes information on emissions and investment contributions.

Market mechanism

Countries will be able to use tools such as emissions trading and carbon pricing to incentivize emissions reduction activities.

Financial commitment

Common but differentiated responsibility: developed countries must finance developing countries with at least $100 billion per year from 2020 for mitigation and adaptation.

Irrecoverable damage

Recognition of the need for support measures in the event of irrecoverable losses, although without specifying compensation.

Legal form and enforcement

The Paris Agreement is legally binding and national climate change targets are set by each country.

Entry into force

4 November 2016, 30 days after ratification by 55 Parties accounting for at least 55% of total GHG emissions.


17 goals to transform our world:

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint for a sustainable future for all. They interrelate with each other and incorporate the global challenges we face every day, such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace, and justice. To leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each of these goals by 2030.