Yes. According to most scientists, including the Australian Academy of Science it is real. The Earth’s climate has changed over the past century and the best available evidence indicates that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from human activities are the main cause.
The atmosphere and oceans continue to warm,, sea levels continue to risen, and glaciers and ice sheets are decreasing in size. Continuing increases in greenhouse gas emissions will produce further warming and other changes in the Earth’s physical environment and ecosystems. 100 According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate (high confidence). Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.
However, populations are not uniformly vulnerable to climate change. The reasons for vulnerability are largely social and economic, not merely a matter of different exposure to climate-related and environmental hazards. Access to resources is one critical factor that shapes communities’ ability to plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change. To try to contain these impacts, the vast majority of countries are taking action, but aggregate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set out in countries Nationally determined contributions are not sufficient. Meeting climate objectives and achieving sustainable economic growth is critical to enhancing societal and economic resilience, improving productivity and – in parallel with other policy reforms – reducing inequalities.
Climate change is already having profound consequences on people’s lives and the diversity of life on the planet. Sea levels are rising and oceans are warming. Longer and more intense droughts threaten freshwater supplies and crops, endangering efforts to feed a growing world population. The livelihoods of farmers, fishers and foresters, who have contributed least to climate change, are already suffering most from extreme weather events that damage infrastructure, wipe out harvests, compromise fish stocks, erode natural resources and endangered species. Between 2006 and 2016, agriculture bore the brunt of 26% of the total damage and loss caused by climate-related disasters in developing countries. That is why, in 2015, world leaders made historic commitments to face the great challenges of the planet, promising to build a sustainable future for humanity through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and pledging action to address climate change in the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement * (COP 21 **).
* UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
** COP 21: The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties.
See how your country compares in GHG emissions:
Australian Academy of Science. (2015). The science of climate change: Questions and answers. Canberra. Access: https://www.science.org.au/files/userfiles/learning/documents/climate-change-wr.pdf
IPCC. (2018). Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Access: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/05/SR15_SPM_version_report_LR.pdf
OECD. (n.d). COP21: Climate change in figures. Access: https://www.oecd.org/statistics/cop21-climate-change-in-figures.htm
Thomas, K., Hardy, R. D., Lazrus, H., Mendez, M., Orlove, B., Rivera-Collazo, I., Roberts, J. T., Rockman, M., Warner, B. P., & Winthrop, R. (2018). Explaining differential vulnerability to climate change: A social science review. WIREs Clim Change. 10:e, 565.
OCDE. (2019). OECD work in support of climate action. Access: https://www.oecd.org/environment/cc/OECD-work-in-support-of-climate-action.pdf
FAO. (2018). FAO’s work on climate change. United Nations Climate Change Conference 2018. Access: http://www.fao.org/3/CA2607EN/ca2607en.pdf