UNEP and the climate emergency

This briefing note was published in September 2020 to coincide with the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.  

The impacts of rising temperatures are visible everywhere today from the poles to the equator. Scientists estimate that the world has experienced a global temperature increase of 1.1˚C, which is expected to rise to 3˚C by 2100, if we continue on business as usual.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has decades of experience working on climate change. It helped establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the 1980s and has concentrated on efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly by promoting renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.

UNEP approach to climate change

UNEP stands at the core of the action in the fight against climate change. Its work cuts across the fields of science, policy, technology and finance. The organization works with countries to pursue low-emission development and boost their capacity to adapt and be resilient to climate heating through nature-based solutions.

UNEP is also helping implement the Paris Agreement—the world’s roadmap for tackling climate change—by helping dozens of countries develop national plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the development of new finance models to accelerate the transition to a green economy.

The organization is also working with governments, civil society and the private sector to improve air quality and reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. It similarly works with sectors to protect and restore natural ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs and peatlands while combating the sources of degradation.

Way forward

UNEP calls for greater ambition from countries and recognition of the benefits of integrating natural systems into concrete climate action.

The organization is helping countries move towards climate resilience and low-emissions strategies through:

Further resources: