"EVALUATING THE RATE AND EXTENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS IMPACTS ON THE NATURAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT"
Climate research has made significant progress over the last quarter century, highlighting the extent of the change underway and the part played by human activities in climate change over the last few decades. Awareness of the issues also extends to the general public and politicians. Scientists are now setting about evaluating the rate of global warming and its natural, economic and social impacts. However, advancement of their knowledge is hampered by the uncertainty surrounding core problems, which – because of their great complexity – scientists identify as the ‘grand challenges’ of climate change research. These are not only overarching physical issues (sea-level rise in the world’s oceans, cryospheric processes, etc.) but also questions of how information can be conveyed – or even of how human societies are going to evolve in future.
Intergovernmental agreements to combat global warming
To combat these effects, 160 countries signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, making a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 1997, they signed the Kyoto Protocol, setting targets for reducing carbon emissions resulting from human activities by 5 - 8% during the period to 2012. However, even though this agreement represents a rare international convergence of approaches to major environmental problems, its implementation has proved extremely slow and outcomes have fallen short of its objectives. The 2015 Paris Conference of the Parties to the FCCC (COP-21) could lead to agreement on new, more binding targets.
Research groups linked to climate