Climate Change Statistics

The UNFCCC has affirmed that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change is a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

The world's climate system, including the atmosphere, oceans and cryosphere, is changing and will continue to change at rates unprecedented in recent human history. Findings on the scientific basis for climate change suggest that a number of human-induced alterations of the natural world are involved.

Climate change affects all countries and remains one of the most important development challenges facing humanity. It disrupts national economies and affects lives, costing people, communities and countries significantly today and in the future. The main impacts of climate change are observed through both slow onset events (e.g., sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, forest degradation, biodiversity loss and desertification) and sudden extreme weather events.

Climate change occurs in a sequence of key events. They include process drivers, GHG emissions, CO2 concentrations, changes evidencing climate change, occurrence of slow onset events and occurrence of extreme hydrometeorological events; which, depending on the country's disaster preparedness and risk reduction infrastructure, will result in disasters and their corresponding impacts on people, human settlements, economic assets and ecosystems. Each of the parts of this sequence can be described and measured to some extent, and pertinent statistics can be produced, depending on countries' priorities and resources.

Most of the literature about climate change is focused on analytical and policy aspects. The guidance available about data and statistics for the measurement of climate change is mainly about methodologies to estimate GHG emissions. However, work is increasingly being conducted to develop methodologies on the other aspects. They include climate change evidence and impacts, quantification of the occurrence of disasters, their magnitude and different impacts, as well as adaptation efforts.

Due to this increasing importance of statistical work on climate change, this new knowledge platform is dedicated to climate change statistics. It aims to provide guidance and tools for countries interested in collecting, compiling and disseminating climate change statistics, emphasizing those that are related to environment statistics.

This platform includes various documents, tools and resources which are being made available.

UNSD documents and conferences on climate change statistics

Other useful resources