End-of-the-year results for tackling climate change globally

The conversation on climate change continues to evolve in a direction several countries view as extremely encouraging.

The conversation on climate change continues to evolve in a direction several countries view as extremely encouraging. In a previous article, I looked at changing weather patterns globally, providing examples from different nations that have experienced very unusual situations, and also discussed measures being taken globally to offset gases that have contributed greatly to the changes in climate.

We have seen several weather patterns for the first time in the United States, for example Super-storm Sandy, that carved its way up the East Coast leaving a trail of complete destruction in its path.

Globally, countries like Japan have been hit with devastating typhoons and record-breaking rainfall levels historically documented. According to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization, the United Kingdom and the Balkans received double the rainfall in some months and in some cases annually. Parts of Turkey have experienced four times the average precipitation.

The U.S. National Climate Assessment report discusses several examples of how climate change is affecting the citizens of the United States now and will continue to do so in the future. A recent overview of the report discusses key areas, such as Human health, Forests, Water resources, Agriculture, Indigenous people, Ecosystems, Energy, Urban systems, Land use, Transportation, Oceans, Adaptation and mitigation, as well as Decision support. The full report is available and provides a closer look at these issues in more detail.

Despite criticism and opposition from politicians and governments around the world, climate change is widely accepted as one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, and taking action seems to be a critical step for future generations for both developed and developing countries to take. Strides in the right direction were taken late last year at the United Nations’ Climate Change discussions in Lima, Peru between members representing developing and developed nations. Members reached an agreement in December 2013 over a two-week period after the meeting ran over by two days. The final agreement between nations was adopted shortly after developing countries rejected the initial proposal which accused wealthier nations of dodging their responsibilities to help combat the global issue both by cutting their carbon and addressing impacts financially.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported, “none of the 194 countries attending the talks in Lima walked away with everything they wanted, but everybody got something.” Delegates from India and Peru felt the decisions reached between nations was a step in the right direction for carbon emission reduction from developing countries and a great step forward for next year’s discussion in Paris, France. The BBC described the results of the meeting as an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that reflects “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. There were several key agreements outlined:

  • Developed countries are to provide financial support to “vulnerable developing nations”
  • National pledges are to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those stated “ready to do so”
  • Countries are to set targets that go beyond their “current undertaking”
  • The United Nations climate change body is to report back on the national pledges in November 2015

Michigan State University Extension and MSU Campus Faculty have created the Climate Variability Action Team to address some of the challenges Michigan currently faces and will need to address in the near future. For more information, please visit the MSU Extension website.

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