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New scientific insight and new research have confirmed that global climate change is taking place and is projected to continue. Impacts of climate change on society and natural resources are already occurring worldwide and are projected to become even more pronounced. Much of the recent global warming can be attributed to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities.
Many European countries have adopted national programmes including policies and measures to reduce GHG emissions. However, they have increased in recent years in most countries and are projected to continue to do so in the future. Many WCE countries will have difficulties in meeting their Kyoto commitments, while those EECCA countries with a Kyoto commitment are projected tomeet them.
The Kyoto Protocol under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its first commitment period is only a first step in addressing climate change. To avoid unacceptable future impacts, further substantial global GHG emission reductions are needed and strong mitigation measures must be implemented. The EU has proposed a target of limiting temperature increase to a maximum of 2 °C above pre‑industrial levels. To achieve this, a global emission reduction of up to 50 % by 2050 is necessary.
Even if global emissions of greenhouse gases are drastically reduced, some unavoidable climate change impacts are still projected to occur in most sectors of the economy and on natural resources. It is therefore also urgent to adapt to those impacts in developing and implementing policies and measures in all sectors of society.
Climate change and depletion of the ozone layer are two separate issues, but with interactions related to the emissions of compounds as well as the physical and chemical changes in the atmosphere. Ozone‑depleting substances and their replacement compounds are GHGs with long atmospheric lifetimes and they will, therefore, contribute to climate change for many years to come.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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