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Responses to Climate Change

Climate change is one of the main topics covered in GCSE Geography. This is one of four quizzes on that subject and it looks specifically at the international responses to climate change, such as the Kyoto Protocol.

Since the end of the 20th Century the world's nations have been attempting to formulate effective responses to the threat of global climate change. In 2007 the United Nations Bali Climate Change Conference was attended by representatives from 180 countries - this was the next step after the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

The European nations suggested that by 2050 emissions of harmful gases and all greenhouse gases should be halved. However, the United States of America, Japan, Canada, Australia and Russia objected, meaning the wording is now ‘deep cuts in global emissions’ rather than 'emissions should be halved'.

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In addition to cutting the emission of greenhouse gases, the conference included a road map looking at deforestation and forest management. This is about technologies that can assist developing countries and financial assistance that developing nations can take advantage of to help prevent their development leading to an increase in global emissions.

The World Meteorological Society is working to bring together the science, data and policy makers to ensure that data is interpreted and delivered in a timely manner. They are also working to improve the tools used in responses to disasters and to make people on the ground better informed of future and present situations.

Beyond governmental policy changes and treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol, hard and soft engineering solutions are being put in place for sea level rises and for predicted extreme weather events. One of the largest and most famous is the Thames Barrier. Sea walls, reinforcing coastal defences and moving transport such as road and rail away from the immediate coast is also helping protect the vulnerable parts of out settlements and infrastructure.

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  1. Which superpower announced its intention not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol?
    Since the US have never ratified the treaty, despite signing in 1998, they had no obligations to reduce emissions in the period that ended in 2012
  2. What do the letters UNFCCC stand for?
    The UNFCCC is best known for the Kyoto Protocal, and later, the Bali Road Map. Their website is a good source of material for revision purposes
  3. Why is developing new types of crops and food technologies key to adapting to climate change?
    Changing conditions will stretch global agriculture beyond what it can produce at present. This, and a steady increase in human population, means that new food technologies will be required to feed demand
  4. What is the Green Climate Fund?
    As a country develops, its carbon emissions rise. Nations like those in the EU have already gone through this stage and, to help reduce overall carbon output, are providing funding to nations that are still developing
  5. If greenhouse gas emissions stopped today, for how much longer would man-made climate change continue to occur?
    Even if somehow governments managed to stop emissions today, it would still take decades for the climate to recover. It's unlikely that governments will reach a consensus in the immediate future. Whilst the rate of increase in greenhouse emissions is slowing, there is still an increase occurring
  6. If CO2 levels remain below 550ppm climate change may be small enough to allow both human populations and plant and animal species to adapt and adjust - rather than facing extinction. Which is not a way countries are reducing the rise in CO2 levels?
    Reducing carbon output by developing new technologies, as well as planting trees and developing carbon capture techniques, can reduce the rise in average global temperatures
  7. What protocol was adopted on 11th December 1997 in Japan as a part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, committing the parties to internationally binding reductions in emissions?
    The Kyoto Protocol was seen as an important first step - even though not all industrialised nations agreed to or met the emissions targets
  8. What are the UK Climate Change Agreements?
    Climate Change Levies are designed to encourage energy dependent sectors to improve their carbon footprint. Climate Change Agreements encourage them to improve even further
  9. Which of the following is not a way that you can reduce your carbon footprint and so do your bit to reduce the impact of climate change?
    New equipment uses far less energy, reducing your carbon foot print although some people argue that this is offset by the emissions from manufacturing the more energy efficient appliances
  10. Some nations have begun to use carbon sinks to meet their targets for emission reduction. What are carbon sinks?
    It is likely that new technologies, including the use of genetically modified algae, will help to increase the rate of carbon capture and improve our chances of using carbon sinks to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere

Author: Ruth M

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