What's being done?
Countries are working together at a global scale to try to limit climate change to less than 2°C. They've also pledged to do everything possible to keep climate change below 1.5°C - considered a safer level of warming.
The IPCC is made up of scientists from 195 countries around the world, who work together to educate our politicians and everyday people about climate change. Every 6 or 7 years, IPCC scientists write a big report explaining all of the latest scientific research on climate change, what is causing it, and the risks we might face in the future if we don’t look after the environment. The report also recommends actions that countries can take to protect their ecosystems and create a safer world for us to live in.
The latest IPCC report
In 2021 and 2022 the IPCC's 6th report, ‘AR6’ is published. It tells us that human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests have warmed the planet, creating permanent changes such as rising sea levels and polar ice melt. Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.09°C since the industrial revolution, causing a larger number of disastrous weather events such as storms, bushfires and floods. Digging up and burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, petrol and gas releases greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere where they become trapped. The report tells us that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the main greenhouse gases currently ‘driving’ climate change.
195 countries have agreed that this is a big problem. At COP 21 in Paris, in 2015, these countries signed a document called ‘The Paris Agreement’, which pledges to reduce their emissions to keep global warming under 2°C . The IPCC AR6 tells us that we are on track to pass 1.5°C and even 2°C of warming unless we lower worldwide greenhouse gas emissions starting immediately.
Getting countries all around the world to stop burning fossil fuels and lower their greenhouse emissions will be a huge job. Each year, the United Nations organises a big, international meeting called COP – last year was COP 27 and this year will be COP 28. This stands for the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties and is being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in November 2023. Countries will have the opportunity to discuss what they have learnt from the 6th IPCC report and how they will achieve the goals they have agreed to in the Paris Agreement.
As well as trying to keep global warming below 1.5°C-2°C, climate change discussions at COP 28 will also lead to positive environmental changes around the world, including cleaner air, new jobs and healthier oceans, forests and towns.
And in Australia?
Climate policy can be a highly political issue in Australia, but this is changing. Last year Australia created its Climate Change Bill and confirmed our national commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To do this, Australia is using its Emissions Reduction Fun to financially incentivise businesses across the country to reduce their emissions. Australia is also reducing its emissions through the Powering Australia plan which is boosting renewable energy. The live chart here shows how much of each state's electricity comes from fossil fuels or renewables.
Australia also has its own Climate Change Authority. This group is independent from government and it is not political. It provides expert advice from lots of different people and groups including scientists and lawyers to the Australian Government on climate change.