Climate change

Climate change

How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?


Short Overview

US-China November 2014 joint announcement pledged GHG emissions caps, collaboration on clearer energy research, carbon capture and reuse, eco-smart city designs, and phasing down of their use of Hydroflurocarbons. The global average surface temperature in 2016 is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the milestone of 1C° above the pre-industrial era. The years 2012-2016 have been the warmest five-year period on record. Monthly CO2 ppm as measured at Mauna Loa monitoring station reached 406.7 in May 2016 (it was 403.7 in May 2015, 401.88 ppm in May 2014, and 399.9 ppm in May 2013). The IPCC reports that each decade of the past three were consecutively warmer, that the past 30 years was likely the warmest period in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 1,400 years, and that even if all CO2 emissions are stopped, "Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries;" hence, the world has to take adaptation far more seriously. IPCC says the sea level rose 19 cm from 1901 to 2010, and could rise an additional 26 to 98 cm by the end of this century and the earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. Warming soil now found to release CO2 not included in previous forecasts.

The total GHG emission is about 54 Gt of CO2 equivalent per year. In business-as-usual scenario, the emissions are estimated to reach 59 Gt of CO2 equivalent in 2020 and 68 Gt of CO2 equivalent in 2030. The IPCC estimates that no more than 1000Gt of CO2 equivalent shall be emitted between 2012 and 2100 if we want to have 66% chance of limiting the warming below 2°C.

Nature's capacity to absorb human-induced emissions is diminishing. Oceans will continue absorbing human-generated CO2 for decades if not centuries, which increases acidity, affecting coral reefs and other sea life. Over the long term, increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to a Proliferation of microbes that emit hydrogen sulfide—a very poisonous gas that could lead to mass extinctions. Surface ocean pH has already fallen by about 0.11 pH units from preindustrial times to today, and if the current trend continues, it is likely to drop by 0.3-0.4 units by the end of this century with devastating impacts on the marine ecosystem.


06 May 2017



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