Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
The news to date is bad and getting worse. Ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets has continued, leading, for example, to the second straight year with an ice-free passage through Canada’s Arctic islands, and accelerating rates of ice-loss from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Combined with thermal expansion—warm water occupies more volume than cold—the melting of ice sheets and glaciers around the world is contributing to rates and an ultimate extent of sea-level rise that could far outstrip those anticipated in the most recent global scientific assessment. There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, for example, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations. Climate feedback systems and environmental cumulative effects are building across Earth systems demonstrating behaviours we cannot anticipate.
The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more present. The most dangerous climate changes may still be avoided if we transform our hydrocarbon based energy systems and if we initiate rational and adequately financed adaptation programmes to forestall disasters and migrations at unprecedented scales. The tools are available, but they must be applied immediately and aggressively.
The ideal solution would be an immediate and drastic drop in global carbon emissions. However this is not going to happen in our lifetimes. In fact, rapid economic development in countries such as China and India, as well as ongoing growth in the rest of the world, mean that carbon emissions are still increasing year on year. The Kyoto Protocol is a first international attempt to address the issue seriously, but it has met with limited success. The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce carbon emissions by a reducing total cap for installations (e.g. utility companies and heavy industry) from participating countries.
In order for installations to comply with Kyoto targets, three flexibility mechanisms have been put in place, one of them being the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM is the only mechanism serving the twin objective of cost-efficient emission reduction and sustainable development. Under the CDM, developed countries can purchase carbon credits, or Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), for investing in projects in the developing world.
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What can you do? Support Climate Projects by purchasing Carbon Credits!
Carbon credits (or carbon offsets) offer a solution for companies and individuals to reduce their negative impact on Climate Change. By calculating the quantity of carbon emitted by for example flying, driving and using electricity in a Carbon Footprint, the carbon emitter can support a climate project that reduces carbon emissions by purchasing a similar amount of carbon credits. In this way, a person, company or even a product can become 100% climate neutral.
Carbon credits originate from various renewable energy projects in (least) developing countries, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power which generate energy from renewable resources instead of fossil fuels. Others reduce fuel use by increasing efficiency, switching fuels, or generating heat and electricity together. Since greenhouse gases circulate freely in the atmosphere, this project can be located anywhere in the world.
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