Commitment Cycles and the Ratchet Mechanism

One of the big questions facing the negotiations is whether the agreement arrived at in 2015 should direct climate action for decades to come, and if so, how. This question has become starkly relevant as it is now clear that the recently submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will only direct global action for 10 years, and will only push global action part of the way towards the 2˚C pathway.

Alaska: Climate Change Ground Zero

The Earth’s temperature is now increasing faster than anytime in the last 1,000 years. Alaska and the Arctic, temperatures are rising at twice the global rate—more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, making the region ground zero for climate change. The best estimate is that human activity is responsible for all of the observed increase in global temperatures since 1985. The effects of the temperature changes are transforming a once-frozen seascape into an evolving, navigable ocean. These rapid changes occurring in the North have created a new Arctic climate system.

Climate Change Fuels Record Hot Summer’s Latest Heat Waves

The Japanese Meteorological Agency has announced that this past July was the warmest on record, a finding reinforced by preliminary NASA data. This means July was likely the hottest of any month on record, and puts 2015 safely on track to beat 2014 as the hottest year on record.

Long-Term Goals

One big question for negotiations at COP21 is whether to develop a long–term global goal for climate action, and if so, what that goal might look like. While all the long-term goals aim to avoid catastrophic climate change, each one proposes a different way to get there. Navigate the maze here.

Finance

The term “climate finance” refers to public and private mechanisms established to help fund countries in their efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Read on for details of the Green Climate Fund–the current focus of this work–and other finance initiatives.

Bumblebees Threatened by Warming World

North American and European bumblebee species face significant risks from climate change, according to research published in Science. Faced with rising temperatures, bumblebees have been unable to shift their range to higher latitudes.

Arctic Winter Sea Ice Reaches Record Low

On March 19, 2015, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced that the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice cover this winter was the lowest ever recorded: 5.61 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers) on February 25.