In recent years, the issue of climate change - and what we can do to prevent further changes to the planet's natural eco-systems - has taken centre stage on the world political agenda. There's been plenty of talk, but what is actually being done to stop climate change?
From the Kyoto treaty to smaller commitments people are making to do their bit for the environment, here we set out what is being done to help prevent further damage to the environment, and the big challenges shaping the debate.
The Kyoto Treaty & International Summits
Climate change is a global issue, and so too has been the international move to support a long lasting solution to tackle the problems. A number of international summits - including the Earth summit in Rio and more recently Kyoto - have taken place in recent years to debate the principal environmental concerns and set out an agenda to help prevent further eco depreciation.
Kyoto has been one of the most influential summits to date, as it sets out a binding protocol for reducing carbon emissions. For countries in the EU, this involves a commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2012. While the protocol is binding, it isn't compulsory for countries to actually sign up, and, notably, several large counties including the US haven't committed to signing up to the scheme as yet, despite growing international pressure.
The Big Ask
In the UK, Friends of the Earth have been campaigning since 2003 for a climate change law that would make it a legal requirement for the government to cut the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by three per cent year on year. So far, 200,000 people have registered their support for the campaign by contacting their MP on the matter. As a result, a climate change bill was tabled in 2007 as a long-term commitment to tackling climate change.
The Government's Climate Change Bill
The climate change bill sets out the framework for the UK's long-term policy on climate change and in particular CO2 emissions. The government has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), a previous commitment that will now become legally binding. The bill also proposes an independent committee on climate change to be established that would monitor and give advice on how to achieve these emissions targets.
This committee would be comprised of industry experts in science, energy and technology. Finally, the bill sets out new powers to enable future governments to implement stricter emissions policies going forward. The bill is yet to pass into law, but is expected to do so during 2008.
New Challenges For Combating Climate Change
As we become increasingly aware of climate change - particularly when its effects begin to affect us directly more than ever - new challenges continue to shape and complicate the debate.
Developing economies: countries such as India and China are experiencing unprecedented levels of growth in their economies, spearheaded by commerce and industrialisation. Levels of CO2 emissions have risen here accordingly, and continue to rise, thus cancelling out other nations' attempts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Reluctance of the US: The single-largest carbon emitter, the United States, has been less than enthusiastic to make a lasting commitment to help tackle climate change. Most recently, a UN conference in Bali reached a deadlock after the US refused to support a follow-up deal to Kyoto, which would have seen countries have to reduce carbon emissions by up to 40% by 2020.
Changing people's outlooks: there is still a lot we can be doing on an individual basis to help combat the effects of climate change. A small change individually equates to a large-scale change collectively, so turning around some of our bad habits around can make a lasting difference.
we should stop eating beans because the more we fart the more destructive gasses are released into the environment.
beans - 5-Jan-20 @ 8:53 PM
I just read that upto 51% of emissions come from animal agriculture. Not eating animal products for breakfast and lunch has a smaller CO2 footprint than the average full-time vegetarian diet. This might be easier for some than contemplating a sudden change to vegan.
The government should promote oatmilk perhaps by subsidising it for those on low income. Dairy farmers should be supported to change to arable and prevented from selling dried milk to China.
Grandmother - 5-Jan-20 @ 7:44 AM
We are told that as a result of global warming, it is predicted that the polar regions will melt giving us lots of water.
To combat global warming we will be planting millions of trees.
What if we took this extra water of part of it, passed it through desalination plants and piped the water to arid, or desert parts of the world for irrigation and plant these areas with the trees.
If man can use large pipes to pump oil from one country to another, then surely man can use the same large pipes for water.
I appreciate that this will cost an enormous amount of money, but how much is the Earth worth?The machinery could be powered by solar panels and wind turbines, and in the fullness of time the trees could be harvested.
If the UN could take this project on board and take it to say parts of Africa, India, Australia etc then parts of the problem would be solved.Plus, look at the employment prospects.
GW - 5-Dec-19 @ 10:16 AM
WHY WONT PEOPLE DO ANYTHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, all these stupid millionaires and billionaires living their life all fancy not thinking about anyone else and what they might be going through and all these politics talking about FLIPPIN BREXIT, all these racist people plotting their next terrorist attack, (HINT HINT MUSILMS ARE BEING PUT IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS BY CHINESE PEOPLE X() , and wars starting again why wont anyone just take a look at what is going on behind this .Why wont people see the fact that there might not be another generation all these teenagers in this generation may not be able to have children because we will be swiped away. JUST LISTEN TO US WE ARE THE NEXT GENERATION AND WE NEED TO BE HEARD (im 13 btw)
siennaharris - 6-Oct-19 @ 8:26 PM
We are two 13-year-old girls who once wished and dreamed of having a bright future and living our life to the fullest and now with the not so recent discovery of global warming that dream has been taken from us, our lives stripped from our souls with approximately only being able to live until we are 25 years old only 12 years left. We will never have children of our own since it would be murder to have a child that would just live a short life of pain and misery. The saddest fact about this whole situation is that people still DO NOT BELIEVE GLOBAL WARMING EXISTS! and that nothing is being done about it. and that the older generation is only concerned about what will happen on this earth until they die and not for future generations. so we are all basically screwed unless some real change happens in this world with a global movement, not just one country we all need to come together and put some effort into it because we only get ONE EARTH. please make conscious choices about the things you do as well such as becoming vegetarian supporting organisations such as deforestation groups and even using less wasteful products with less packaging. Othe things you could do is change your power source from coal and gas to solar / wind.
Mika and Shin - 26-Apr-19 @ 2:44 PM
i am only 13, i might not be able to have a future. I recently watched Our Planet and the fact that the Walruses were dying as a result of falling off of cliff’s where water and ice should be! If this doesnt open our eyes i dont know what will. If i had kids how long will they have to live? What does it look like for them, will they ever have a family? Probably not. Everyone is thinking about now and the next 20 years but what about way in the future. We need to change the way we use engery and we need to cut back. If we dont do something now this planet is going to kill us.
jesslovell - 12-Apr-19 @ 11:28 PM
Every vehicle that approaches any UK roundabout often need
to STOP and wait at the first set of traffic lights which is
absolutely necessary to allow other vehicles from other
directions to also go around the roundabout while taking turns.
That means once you are actually onto the roundabout after
leaving the first set of lights, you are then hit with either
another one, two or sometimes three sets of traffic lights
stopping you from going around it any further until they change
to green or unless you are quick enough before the lights
change for you to stop.
I totally disagree with the design of these traffic lights on
every roundabout in the UK, and I believe that once you have
stopped at the first set of lights at the commencement of the
roundabout and then accelerate to move further on around the
roundabout, we should not have to put up with those extra
inside set of traffic lights which means that every single
vehicle on any roundabout would leave the very first set of
lights and drive all the way around the rest of the roundabout
in one single journey 'without' stopping.
In other words, you stop at the very first lights at any
roundabout and once they change to green, you head straight
onto your next turn off from the roundabout in one single
journey without the need to stop.
At present, a car has to stop at the beginning of the
roundabout which is absolutely necessary to allow other
vehicles from other directions to also go around the
roundabout while taking turns as earlier mentioned and
therefore, once the lights change to green he/she accelerates.
Up to now, that means that the car driver had to slow down to
start with at the traffic lights while approaching the
roundabout, then had to accelerate but then has to stop and
accelerate again on the 2nd set of traffic lights. The driver
has to stop and accelerate again if there happens to be a
further set of lights ahead.
If just 'one' car or some other type of vehicle has to approach
and go around a roundabout while stopping at 2 -3 sets of
traffic lights in just one day of the week, isn't that a lot of lot
of exhaust fumes polluting the atmosphere from all the
vehicles at once?
Every few minutes on every UK roundabout where there are
more than one set of traffic lights to give-way and accelerate
again, the fumes from all these vehicles will be doing nothing
more than polluting our air. However, after stopping and leaving
at the very first set of traffic lights at the roundabout and
continuing on all the way around 'without stopping at all' and
then leaving the roundabout onto the road you actually require,
would be much less pollution every day of the whole year. It
would also mean many drivers are saving on fuel costs as they
are not having to slow down and stop before accelerating again.
Anon - 23-Mar-19 @ 12:36 AM
what do countries and goverments do to stop climate change?
me...pls help meee - 21-Mar-19 @ 2:33 PM
@Samuel Sklar - if you are very passionate, studying environmentalism and finding a job that helps you convey the message may help. It's a tough call to do it single-handedly, but you could help by joining a team. There are many niche jobs and every little helps.
TomB - 27-Jul-18 @ 10:50 AM
I have a lot of anxiety about global warming. And i'm afraid that trump isn't doing anything to help it. So, what can I do to help reduce the amount of Global Warming. What advice do you have for me, because I really really don't want the earth to be destroyed and the point of no return. I want people to realize that this is a real issue. What do I do to convince people that this is a big issue that needs to be solved?
Samuel Sklar - 26-Jul-18 @ 12:56 AM
Climate change doesn't exist you properly think the earth is round to it is clearly a cube get your facts right I am clearly smarter. I AM A GOD
Lies - 13-Mar-18 @ 5:18 PM
what has been done in the past and what is being done now to stop climate change aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
global warming is he - 13-Mar-18 @ 4:24 PM
what is done by individuals to reduce global warming????
lanaxx9 - 26-Nov-17 @ 5:46 AM
The thing is right, climate change in straya is useless cos its always hot as hell down here anyway but you northern hemisphere citizens should probably something aye
brando_b - 19-Sep-17 @ 2:45 AM
AS A STUDENT WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
YAHOO - 26-Apr-17 @ 3:16 PM
I understand that the worldwide nations, the UN and scientists are saying global warming is real and is going to keep getting worse, but why are we just sitting back, extending pipelines, and extracting oil when we KNOW its bad.The nations aren't doing ANYTHING to combat global warming, they're just saying that we need to.It's like saying you're going to go to a party and just snake them and not go.I hope that some people like myself are attempting to do something about this.There is no STOPPING global warming, because it is scientifically proven that the Earth naturally warms and cools, which is why ice ages happen, but we are rapidly increasing the speed of global warming and if we do not try to do anything to slow this process down, the temperature of the Earth will continue to increase.This will increase precipitation and cause more frequent and much more stronger rainfall activities.I hope someone takes this seriously, as we all should care about the Earth.BTW it doesn't matter your age.I'm 15 and trying to make a difference in the world.
luke - 8-Apr-17 @ 7:14 PM
@yeet what do you think the problem is with oil and coal? when you extract it and burn it, it produces CO2.CO2 is literally the biggest reason why climate change is happening.
luke - 8-Apr-17 @ 7:04 PM
Global warming does exist. Look at the changes in the climate, the climate is becoming much more warm. Even our harmattans aren't as cold as they used to be
Joken - 31-Jan-17 @ 11:22 PM
I think rising temperatures are fake because of co2 but what I think is oil and coal is still bad due to oil spills and mining which cause fish and reefs to die. And deforestation is bad because trees regulate the climate and water and give medicine and oxygen and they are habitats. And the oceans dying due to over fishing and oil spills and mining is the problem and not rising temperatures.So we should focus on replanting trees. making it illegal to fish in most parts and making it illegal to mine for coal and oil. Also solar panels and green energy is good to.
Yeet - 23-Jan-17 @ 2:47 AM
@Cthulhu - Some polar bear numbers are stable, some seem to be increasing, and others are decreasing. There is not as much hunting of them anymore and there is also a big gap in data. Just because they are surviving it doesn't mean there isn't global warming, other factors have to be considered too. Jaime.
JBR00 - 29-Nov-16 @ 12:47 PM
People are so stupid. Global warming doesn't exist. Look at the ice caps and polar bear numbers. The government spends 1.5 trillion dollars a year on fixing an imaginary problem. This is the biggest scam in history.
Cthulhu - 29-Nov-16 @ 3:44 AM
So the big problem is not that we don't know how to stop the climate changes, but that we don't do anything about it. Are people to blind to see, how their ways of living is causing the damages? Or is it just because we don't care what is going to happen to the Earth in 100 years from now? It doesn't matter how much we think about it, but it matters what we do about it. Thank you for your time.
Just trying to under - 7-Nov-16 @ 5:24 PM
Ive seen so many articles saying that we're doomed and we have no chance at slowing down global warming but I don't Believe that's true, there are things we can do to help slow down global warming. I've been freaking out about this for a long time now and I think it's time we did something about it!! Don't put it off until next year!! We need to do something now. Even if it's just a small community, that community will grow and make something beautiful happen!!
Lydxxia - 4-Jun-16 @ 5:48 AM
Ok so what I don't get is how so many world leaders have such big plans as how to deal with our environmental issues why is nothing being done. If I as a 13 year old can see how wrong all this is surely these people can see as well. Honestly I think if they are making big plans they shouldn't announce them if they don't plan on seeing them through.
Em - 3-Jun-16 @ 7:21 PM
What talks and meeting have the government made to stop this because they don't relise that if it keeps on going we will die .They are focusing to much on running the world then saving the world.
hazzaboomboom - 24-May-16 @ 3:09 AM
@Help earth - some people as individuals are greedy and will continue to do the things they do without concern for others and those more giving will help try to do as much as they can to save the planet. The question is who will win out over us as collective.
BenJe88 - 20-May-16 @ 10:42 AM
Why are people so stupid. Whole countries are sitting here watching earth die because of us but no one will stop it. If things keep going like this we might as well put a gun to our heads and pull the trigger
Help earth - 19-May-16 @ 3:36 AM
Global warming is a big problem in the world and needs to be fixed ASAP because if we don't do some thing soon we won't realise until it is to late
the boss - 15-May-16 @ 11:10 PM
joejoe - Your Question:
I have one question? why is nobody doing nothing about our climate we need to take action.because the arctic ice shelf is melting and i've been studying the climate for about 3 weeks, and things arent looking to shabby for the world, if the world wants to stay how it is please cut the Co2 emissions, its easy or make something like white panels that deflect UV rays from the sun. or turn power off for one day out of 2 weeks perhaps. like I walk outside and I feel the humidity and the hot its global and polluting the air needs to stop. its like a suffocating feeling on ur skin and its all to blame because of global warming.
Many thanks for your interesting comments. Renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal and building cleaner energy system are being put in place. However, it is agreed none of this is being done quickly of efficiently enough to currently make a significant difference, nor reverse the process.
PreventClimateChange - 13-May-16 @ 12:01 PM
i have one question? why is nobody doing nothing about our climate we need to take action.because the arctic ice shelf is melting and i've been studying the climate for about 3 weeks, and things arent looking to shabby for the world, if the world wants to stay how it is please cut the Co2 emissions, its easy or make something like white panels that deflect UV rays from the sun. or turn power off for one day out of 2 weeks perhaps. like i walk outside and i feel the humidity and the hot its global and polluting the air needs to stop. its like a suffocating feeling on ur skin and its all to blame because of global warming.