Climate change is a complex crisis with effects felt globally, at all levels. It primarily results from anthropogenic emissions from human activities, altering the composition of the atmosphere globally, and is combined with natural climate variability. According to the 2022 Assessment Report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced climate change is creating serious and widespread disturbance in nature, impacting the lives of billions of people worldwide.
"Climate Action” is Sustainable Development Goal 13 of the United Nations, i.e. taking “urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” and is associated with the following main targets:
13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries;
13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning;
13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning;
At the international and national levels, a number of policies, frameworks, technical and coordination mechanisms aim at supporting stakeholders in their strategic decision- making related to climate action. For instance, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. At its 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, world leaders reached a breakthrough to tackle climate change and its negative impacts with the Paris Agreement, which sets long-term goals to guide all nations:
To substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees
To review countries’ commitments every five years
To provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts
The Agreement, which has been joined by 192 countries plus the European Union, includes commitments from all countries to reduce their emissions and work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and calls on countries to strengthen their commitments over time. The Agreement provides a pathway for developed nations to assist developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts while creating a framework for the transparent monitoring and reporting of countries’ climate goals. Every five years, each country submits an updated national climate action plan - known as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – within which countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their GHG emissions and reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
In 2015, the same year as the Paris Agreement, all Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It has been well understood that action on climate change will drive sustainable development and that sustainable development cannot be achieved without climate action. Conversely, many of the SDGs are addressing the core drivers of climate change
Climate action can be broken down into four categories, to each of which space technologies can contribute: