Climate Change Initiatives

Climate change initiatives are large-scale efforts to combat global warming and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across countries and around the world. Staying current with the latest initiatives related to climate change and global warming can provide you with the context necessary to join the fight against these issues. We have collected some of the most important initiatives currently in place or in the process of being implemented to take on this important challenge to the environment and to the future of life on Earth.

Global Initiatives

These climate change programs and initiatives have attracted support from countries all around the world and are among the most important ways in which the issue of climate change can be addressed. Each of these initiatives is intended to be binding on the countries that have signed on to their provisions and regulations.

The United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997. It did not go into effect, however, until February 16, 2005. The 192 nations that have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to transition to more environmentally responsible fuel sources. The Kyoto Protocol includes targets that would reduce emissions by about 5 percent compared with the levels measured in 1990. A report released in 2016 and published in Science News indicates that the 36 countries that committed to the Kyoto Protocol reached their goals of reducing greenhouse gases. The United States and Canada, however, were not among these nations.

The Paris Agreement went into effect on November 4, 2016, and was designed to replace the Kyoto Protocol. This legally binding treaty requires industrialized countries and those with economies in transition to work toward reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. This is necessary to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with the levels measured before industrial activity became common around the world, which is the expressed goal of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the Paris Agreement offers a framework under which more developed countries can provide financial and technological support for countries with fewer resources and at a less-developed stage of their economies. While results are still mixed for this treaty, it has shown some progress in reducing emissions and slowing the progress of global warming. The United States was initially a participant in the Paris Agreement. President Donald Trump, however, withdrew the United States from the initiative on November 4, 2020. The Biden administration reinstated their commitment upon taking office.

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations consists of more than 50 countries around the world that have banded together to protect the rainforests within their borders from deforestation. To date, the organization estimates that it has reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation by the equivalent of about 8.63 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

The International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP)is a climate change initiative designed to facilitate the exchange of information and assistance in reducing carbon emissions and implementing emissions trading systems. The overall goal of ICAP is to limit emissions of greenhouse gases by instituting a policy that allows industry to exchange carbon credits effectively in the international marketplace.

With the exception of ICAP, these initiatives are designed specifically to reduce emissions on a fairly level playing field. ICAP focuses primarily on the exchange of credits for carbon emissions that can allow some companies and countries to continue to pollute to some degree while they work toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.

Multi-Country Initiatives

While these efforts to combat global warming and climate change are not truly global affairs, they involve a number of countries and are designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Multi-country initiatives do not generally produce the same large-scale results as international programs, but they are still essential elements in the fight against climate change.

The European Climate Change Programme was established in 2000 to assist countries in the European Union (EU) in identifying and implementing policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is closely associated with the Kyoto Protocol because it was instituted as a way to assist EU countries in achieving compliance with this initiative.

The Climate Change Initiative of the European Space Agency tracks global data to determine the ongoing effects of global warming and climate change. It is responsible for monitoring temperatures and compiling scientific evidence about climate change to help determine the right next steps on a global, national and personal level.

Neither of these initiatives have had a direct effect on the threats of global warming and climate change. Indirectly, however, both of these agencies offer actionable information for governments and organizations in the regions they serve and in other parts of the world.

Independent Initiatives

The initiatives we have discussed so far are not ones in which individuals can participate directly. Independent climate change initiatives, by contrast, welcome the support of businesses and individuals who are committed to working toward a green-friendly future.

The Climate Justice Alliance was founded in 2013 and consists of more than 70 communities, organizations and networks in both urban and rural areas. This organization works to educate the public about climate change and the inequities it creates for lower-income families and areas that have experienced economic or racial injustice. The Climate Justice Alliance has created 35 Our Power Communities in eight cities. These local living economy models are designed with the goal of achieving clean community energy, restoring the ecosystem, prioritizing public transport, engaging with regional food systems and producing zero waste. These climate change projects are currently in place in eastern Kentucky, Mississippi, Arizona, California, Michigan and Texas.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a reliable source of information and a catalyst for grass-roots action in the United States and around the world. NRDC has brought legal action against government agencies for failing to update energy efficiency standards and has fought several legal battles to prevent drilling and fracking for petroleum in fragile biosystems. The organization has also been active in making climate change and environmental issues part of the conversation during local, state and national elections in the United States. Some of the landmark achievements of the NRDC include a 2007 win at the U.S. Supreme Court level in making sure that global warming emissions were classified as pollutants, increases in national fuel efficiency standards prompted by NRDC actions and the protection of 11 million acres of North American forests in 2011.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers practical information for consumers on the environmental and health costs of products and activities. EWG regularly releases lists of products that may contain pollutants or pesticides to allow consumers to make the healthiest choices for themselves and for their families. It has also revealed the environmentally irresponsible business practices of utilities and other major companies to provide consumers with the information needed to make green-friendly decisions with their spending dollar.

The Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) is committed to constructive, non-partisan action in the political spectrum. The organization actively recruits new members and supports legislation designed to slow the progress of climate change, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to take on global warming at the government level. CCL encourages the use of social media, community groups, outreach to legislators on the state and federal levels and the use of traditional media to voice concerns about climate change and to work toward a brighter future for everyone. One of the most important goals for the CCL is the passage of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would establish taxes on fossil fuels while returning the revenues to the American people. If enacted, it will reduce emissions in the United States by 40 percent within the first 12 years of implementation. CCL members are encouraged to contact their representatives in Washington to make their support for the bill clear to these legislators.

The Climate Group is a collection of environmental groups that focus on the role of business in fighting climate change. It consists of several different organizations that include RE100, EP100 and EV100. RE100 is a group of companies that have made a commitment to 100 percent renewable power for their operations. EP100 companies are working together to improve energy productivity for reduced spending and lower emissions. Finally, EV100 companies are working under the oversight of the Climate Group to make electric vehicles the primary form of private passenger transportation by the year 2030.

Each of these initiatives plays an important role in the fight against global warming and climate change. If each of us does our part in working toward a green-friendly and environmentally responsible future, it may be possible to stop or even to reverse the progress of global warming and climate change around the world. These initiatives offer practical ways that each of us can get involved and can have a real and lasting impact on the future of the planet on which we live.

climate change initiatives