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Efforts to Address Climate Change

Efforts to Address Climate Change

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Recognize the efforts made by the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change.

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what's covered
This tutorial will cover the topic of efforts to address climate change. We will discuss two main strategies to address climate change: mitigation and adaptation. We will cover government regulations, international bodies, and other organizations' attempts to address climate change, and the challenges associated with it.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Mitigation and Adaptation
  2. Government Regulations
  3. Other Organizations
  4. International Efforts
  5. Challenges to Addressing Climate Change

1. Mitigation and Adaptation

Efforts to address climate change come in two main forms: mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigation strategies introduce and/or eliminate the effects of climate change. There are numerous government efforts directed at mitigation.


An example of such an effort would be carbon sequestration, which refers to when atmospheric carbon is stored underground to negate its greenhouse effect.

Adaptation means adjusting to impending changes in the climate by preparing for its pros and cons, such as acknowledging that certain areas will become too cold to grow food, while other areas will be able to grow more food than previously possible because of climatic limitations. To adapt, we will need to transfer where our prime growing regions are located. Ecosystems will also have to go through adaptation as climates change, but their ability to transition is unpredictable. Scientists are uncertain what the effects will be.

2. Government Regulations

Various government efforts -- including in countries like the United States -- have involved the following:

  • Enforce regulations and standards for greenhouse gas reduction
  • Enforce taxes and fees on producers of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Facilitate tradable carbon permits for businesses and industry
  • Fund financial incentives for greenhouse gas reduction
  • Provide education and information on the climate change sources, their impacts, and strategies to address it

3. Other Organizations

Many institutions of higher education, as well as private businesses, are diverting funds to research ways to reduce greenhouse gases and the potential negative effects of climate change. Some private businesses have been voluntarily signing agreements to reduce their production of greenhouse gases. Along with them, many nonprofit organizations demonstrate, educate, and lobby on climate change issues and problems.

Higher Education Institution

4. International Efforts

One of the most significant international efforts to address climate change was the international meeting in 1992, established by the United Nations, to prepare a framework for the anticipated Kyoto Protocol five years later. This 1992 convention suggested that:

  • More developed nations needed to cut their emissions
  • Internationally we needed to approach climate change with the precautionary principle, meaning we should err on the side of caution rather than wait for scientific certainty
  • Policies to reduce emissions should be cost effective
  • Free trade internationally should be encouraged in a more open global economic system.


By 1997, the Kyoto Protocol -- essentially an international treatise on climate change actions -- had many UN countries on board to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While different countries had different targets, in general, the goal was to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 5.2% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. Emphasis was placed on tracking and monitoring emissions data to understand what mitigation efforts were effective.

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol was seen as a first step in international cooperation on climate change issues. If all were to follow its framework, it would only slightly lower climate change's impacts. However, some countries still did not agree to the Protocol's terms. The United States was one that did not, which is why Kyoto Protocol standards have not been enforced there.

In 1998, a year after the Kyoto Protocol, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed to assess climate change's potential risks and impacts. Even though the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol in Congress, in 2011 the U.S. EPA began to issue greenhouse gas permits to industries, factories, and power plants.

5. Challenges to Addressing Climate Change

Addressing climate change is a challenging endeavor because it is hard to get people to focus on long-term benefits and impacts, as humans tend to be more concerned with short-term consequences and dividends.

People's Climate Change March, NYC, 2014

The current global, political, physical, and economic infrastructure is built around fossil fuels, which makes transitioning away from them difficult -- particularly in developing countries whose economies thrive on cheap, abundant fuel sources. Sadly, those same developing countries are commonly most at risk to negative impacts from climate change. Luckily, some private businesses have realized that climate change can have deep impacts on global economic prosperity, and are finding new technologies to adapt to, or mitigate, climate change impacts.

Today we learned about two categories of addressing climate change: mitigation and adaptation. We learned about government policy in attempting to address climate change, as well as efforts made by private businesses, institutions of higher learning, and nonprofit organizations. We learned about international efforts to address climate change, such as the Kyoto Protocol, an international treatise on climate change actions. Finally, we explored challenges to addressing climate change.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, KYOTO MAP PD HTTP://BIT.LY/1JZMMMI CLIMATE MARCH CC HTTP://BIT.LY/17JKER2