Climate change is caused by anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Climate change impacts natural and human systems globally through the increase globally averaged surface temperature, extreme weather events, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. These risks will ultimately impact people’s livelihoods, particularly marginalized groups such as women, children, and the elderly, as resources, food and water become more scarce. Those effects impact the other SDGs and often make it more difficult to achieve them. To achieve the UNFCCC goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the world must transform its energy, industry, transport, food, agriculture and forestry systems to ensure that cumulative net emissions do not exceed one trillion tonnes of cumulative carbon, which implies global net zero emissions by the second half of the century. Simultaneously the world needs to anticipate, adapt and become resilient to the current and expected future impacts of climate change. Companies can contribute to this SDG by decarbonizing their operations and supply chains through continuously improving energy efficiency, reducing the carbon footprint of their products, services and processes, and setting ambitious emissions reductions targets in line with climate science, as well as scaling up investment in the development of innovative low-carbon products and services.
Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century – with some areas of the world expected to warm even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most. Climate change also exacerbates disasters and combating it is absolutely vital to guaranteeing our survival and the wellbeing of future generations. To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.