United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development
Topics

Climate change

Description

The science is clear: our climate is heating rapidly. The average global temperatures have increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1880, particularly in the late 20th century. The concentration of atmospheric CO2, the GHG that contributes more than 2/3 to global warming, is at its highest level ever. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) steadily points out that human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land, producing widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere. Due to these changes in climate, the number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years, causing over 2 million deaths and US$3.64 trillion in losses.

According to IPCC, warming beyond 1.5 degrees could have irreversible and irreparable consequences. However, effective and equitable adaptation and mitigation actions can significantly reduce vulnerability and contribute to climate resilience. To limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels, countries came together to hold themselves accountable under the Paris Agreement. The agreement is a milestone of international cooperation to tackle climate change – first legally binding document in the history of climate action.

To move fast in the race against climate crisis, targeted actions that bring tangible benefits and limit the trade-offs on multiple fronts, are key for common success against climate change. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world’s plan of action to achieving sustainability and resilience for people and planet, are closely linked with climate. Maximizing on the interlinkages between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement by leveraging Climate and SDG Synergies, has the potential of achieving both agendas and guaranteeing a livable future for next generations by leaving no one behind. In fact, progress made towards limiting global temperature increase would significantly ease the path to many other SDGs, such as those related to poverty, hunger, access to water, and terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Many of the SDGs and their targets can also be achieved in ways that would enable adaptive responses to climate change, for example those related to resilience in SDGs 9 and 11, respectively relating to infrastructure and urban settlements.

 

CLIMATE ACTION STARTING NOW

Act NowEveryone has a role in climate action. At the United Nations, we are calling on people everywhere to work together to solve climate challenges and realize the commitments of the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Learn more  on UN Climate Action, including Secretary-General’s key statements on climate change, Climate Fast Facts,  ActNow - the United Nations campaign for individual action, and much more.

 

WHAT WE DO

UN DESA is moving the needle forward for harnessing synergies across development and climate action. Through its support to various intergovernmental processes and fora, UN DESA is working to improve coordination with other entities by using the 2030 Agenda as both a framework and guiding principles.

Harnessing Climate and SDGs Synergies

Synergies between SDGs and climate can be found across all 17 goals. Broader themes such as energy, water, and agriculture are particularly promising for co-benefits and are highly interlinked at the SDG level.

UN DESA is working to support the interlinked SDG and climate frameworks through the Harnessing Climate and SDG Synergies platform, created with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), thus producing related learning series, and analytical reports. In this context, the annual SDG Pavilion at COP brings together partners and contributes to the discussions for synergistic action on climate and SDGs.

 

Accelerating Universal Energy Access and Net-zero Emissions

Currently, 75 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions stem from the energy sector, making it one of the main drivers of climate change.

UN DESA served as secretariat for the High-level Dialogue on Energy in 2021, supporting the preparatory process. As the Secretariat of UN Energy, UN DESA also supported the development of a new strategic focus, including a pledge to assist countries in their efforts on the following objectives by 2025. UN-Energy facilitated the development of a series of ‘Energy Compacts.’

 

Promoting Water for Sustainable Development

Climate change is primarily a water crisis. By 2050, the number of people at risk of floods will increase from its current level of 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion.

UN DESA supports the implementation of the “International Decade (2018-2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development” and related UN Water Conference on the midterm review which will take place 22-24 March 2023 in New York. UN DESA also supports interagency coordination on water and sanitation by designating the UN-Water Secretary and providing policy advise.

 

Protecting our Oceans

Marine and coastal ecosystems provide protection from natural disasters. Oceans provide oxygen and regulate the global climate, acting as a giant sink for GHGs.

UN DESA coordinates and collaborates with the Communities of Ocean Action and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean. UN DESA has also been supporting the Governments of Kenya and Portugal to organize the second UN Ocean Conference, held from 27 June to 1 July 2022, and its preparatory meetings.

 

Protecting our Forests