Climate Change Statistics

  Global Set of Climate Change Statistics and Indicators
  UNSD activities on Climate Change Statistics

Climate change remains one of the most important challenges facing humanity. It affects every country and disrupts national economies and affects lives, costing people, communities and countries significantly today and in the future. In addition, there is also a significant inequity between countries' emissions and impacts, meaning that often those who contribute to climate change the least, suffer from it the most. People are experiencing the growing impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events.

It is now accepted unequivocally that climate change takes place and is caused by the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released to the atmosphere as a result of human activities (see the IPCC, 2013: The Physical Science Basis). These emissions are changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere with increased concentration of three main gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). According to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the Physical Science Basis which covers the period 2000-2010, the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased by 40% and of CH4 by 150% since pre-industrial times. These amounts have further increased since then.

Building on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, Parties reached a new universal agreement in Paris, in 2015, to reduce emissions, keep global warming to 2oC below pre-industrial levels (i.e. about 1850) and mobilize resources to finance adaptation, as societies move towards a low-carbon economy base. The session and its outcome, the Paris Agreement, were of critical importance, given that it was the first time that all countries have agreed to GHG reductions in their national economies, not only those listed in Annex I Parties of the UNFCCC. The landmark Paris Agreement sets the path to enable humanity to combat climate change and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies around the globe. The agreement includes provisions on mitigation, adaptation and capacity-building that directly relate to the information going forward and addresses the capacity-building needs of developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing States.

There is currently no underlying framework linking the reporting requirements stemming from the Paris Agreement and the necessary statistics or indicators to support climate policy action. The IPCC has, however, developed a schematic framework, as presented in the IPCC Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report, which summarises the complexity of climate change as a sequence of events: drivers, impacts, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation.

Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES 2013)

The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) published the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES 2013), which addresses climate change as a cross-cutting theme in Chapter 5. The chapter provides a set of environmental topics and individual statistics based on the IPCC framework that are important when informing any country on climate change.

Accurate statistics on climate change drivers, impacts, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation are of critical importance to support global environmental policies, foremost on climate change and ocean acidification abatement; likewise, for regional and nationally relevant policies, for
example carbon sequestration enhancement policies (REDD+), urban air quality improvement, etc. At present, the availability of relevant statistics in most countries varies across the above mentioned five areas. UNSD initiated a process to develop a Global Set of Climate Change Statistics and Indicators based on a systematic review of country-based practices and close link between global climate change negotiations and reporting and national statistics.