Climate change is any long-term change in the statistics of weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can express itself as a change in the mean weather conditions, the probability of extreme conditions, or in any other part of the statistical distribution of weather.
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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides fact sheets, publications, and background information designed to foster understanding of the science behind climate change.
Many of the divisions of the UN Secretariat are involved in actions related to climate change, in particular the Department of Economic and Social Affairs which houses the UN Division for Sustainable Development and provides secretariat services for the UN Energy inter-agency mechanism.
The UNFCCC is an international treaty initiated at the Rio Summit in 1992 that sets an overall framework for efforts by the 192 member governments to tackle the challenges posed by climate change. The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known officially as the 16th Session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) and the 6th Session of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 6)) met in Cancun in 2010. The conference led to agreements that represent key steps forward in capturing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures. Texts of the agreements and decisions, as well as videos, are available on the website.
The Kyoto Protocol (1996) is an extension of the UNFCCC treaty that enacts legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emission levels in the 191 signatory countries, which excludes the USA. Under the protocol, developing countries are not required to reduce emissions unless developed countries supply funding and technology.
Created by the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, the IPCC is an international body whose purpose is to provide the world with clear scientific knowledge of climate change and to assess the extent and impacts of climate change on the environment and the global economy. In 2007, the IPCC was a joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize with U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
The IEA is a global effort to achieve energy security, increase environmental protection, and encourage economic growth by engaging partners worldwide.
The IEA’s page on Climate Change includes research materials and information on current programs from the Agency.
The EPA creates regulations and monitors their implementation, disburses grants, and constructs studies designed to protect human health and environment.
Focusing on science and technology, the EPA provides tools and research to educate as well as to find solutions to minimize the effects of climate change.
Outlining the US and the EPA’s involvement in international policies on climate change, this page covers involvement in multilateral, bilateral, and UNFCCC commitments.
EPA has issued regulations under the Clean Air Act and other statutory authorizes to address climate change and related issues.
US Department of Energy (DOE)
The Department of Energy searches for transformative solutions to energy, nuclear, and environmental challenges, through scientific engineering, to restore America’s energy systems. The DOE also focuses on energy security, targeting energy sources that will replace imports.
This page outlines the Department of Energy’s responsibilities that relate to environmental health, mostly to radioactive waste and cleanup, but also to clean air, soil, and water, and to climate change.
The Office of Policy and International Affairs in the Department of Energy houses the Office of Climate Change Policy and Technology (PI-50), which is the focal point within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the development, coordination, and implementation of DOE-related aspects of climate change technical programs, policies, and initiatives. The mission of the Office of Climate Change Policy and Technology is to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced technologies and best practices to mitigate climate change.
The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) was intended to be the culmination of the international effort to address climate change before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Work on the Copenhagen Protocol was led in substantial part by the United States.
Prepared by Charlotte Ambrozek, Intern