Timeline of Climate Change Explained:
The timeline of climate change encompasses significant events, scientific discoveries, and international efforts related to the understanding, impacts, and response to climate change. Here’s a detailed overview:
- Industrial Revolution: The widespread use of fossil fuels, such as coal and later oil, begins during the Industrial Revolution. This marks the start of significant human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
- Greenhouse Effect Theory: Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius presents the theory that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from burning fossil fuels could lead to global warming due to the greenhouse effect.
- Early Climate Research: Scientists begin studying the Earth’s climate system and the potential influence of human activities on global temperatures.
- Keeling Curve: Scientist Charles David Keeling begins measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, establishing the “Keeling Curve.” This record shows a steady increase in CO2 levels over time.
- United Nations Conference on the Human Environment: The first major UN environmental conference takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. Climate change is discussed as one of the global environmental challenges.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The IPCC is established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide scientific assessments of climate change. The IPCC plays a central role in synthesizing scientific knowledge and informing climate policy.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): The UNFCCC is adopted at the Rio Earth Summit. It establishes a framework for international cooperation to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
- Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty under the UNFCCC, is adopted. It sets binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries. The protocol enters into force in 2005.
- Third Assessment Report (TAR): The IPCC releases its Third Assessment Report, providing comprehensive assessments of climate change science, impacts, and mitigation options. It emphasizes the human influence on climate change.
- Copenhagen Accord: The Copenhagen Climate Conference aims to produce a new global climate agreement. Although a legally binding agreement is not reached, the Copenhagen Accord outlines voluntary emission reduction targets and financial support for developing countries.
- Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement is adopted at the UNFCCC’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). It sets the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement establishes a framework for global cooperation on climate action, including mitigation, adaptation, and finance.
- Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15): The IPCC releases the SR15, highlighting the urgent need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report outlines the impacts of global warming, pathways to achieve the temperature goal, and the potential consequences of exceeding it.
- Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26): COP26 is held in Glasgow, Scotland, bringing together world leaders to strengthen climate action and increase ambition in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Throughout this timeline, there has been an increasing recognition of the urgency to address climate change and a growing understanding of its scientific basis, impacts, and the need for international cooperation. Scientific advancements, policy developments, and public awareness have shaped efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate impacts, and transition to a more sustainable future. The timeline demonstrates the ongoing evolution of our understanding and response to climate change.