The 2001 assessment report of the WMO-UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that, if carbon dioxide levels are not significantly reduced, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by as much as 5.8 degrees centigrade by 2100. The adverse impacts expected on human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources, physical infrastructure and migration patterns could put the achievement of the MDGs at risk, especially among the poorest in developing countries, who often live in environmentally vulnerable areas.

The recently released Arctic Climate Impact Assessment reported that the region is warming far more rapidly than previously known—at nearly twice the rate as the rest of the globe.13 Greenhouse gases are projected to make it warmer still, resulting in further large-scale melting of permafrost. According to WMO, 2004 was the fourth hottest year on record. New figures released by Munich Re, a leading re-insurance company and a UNEP Finance Initiative member, projected that in the first ten months of 2004, natural disasters will cost the insurance industry approximately $35 billion, up from $16 billion in 2003. Yet, steps taken towards the “required reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases” remain inadequate.

Major efforts are underway at the intergovernmental level to address climate change. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in February 2005. The Buenos Aires Conference (COP10) in December 2004 adopted measures to help countries prepare for climate change; furthered cooperation among the Secretariats for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and welcomed the Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate (GCOS) in Support of the UNFCCC.

UN organizations continue to deal, individually and collaboratively, with aspects of climate change, including energy, agriculture, cleaner production, human health and forests. They are also undertaking collaborative projects through the Global Environment Facility (GEF)— sponsored by UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank—which aims to reduce the risks of global climate change, while helping to provide energy for sustainable development.